What you eat plays a significant role in your ability to achieve your athletic goals. You can control what you put in your body. But many athletes are not fully aware of how their pre-game meals affect their performance.
As an athlete, you must approach nutrition just like your sport. Would you make time to work on your off hand? Watch film? Go for a run? Then why not schedule time to visit a nutritionist? Spend time learning to cook? Time spent learning how nutrition impacts your game might be what moves you from the end of the bench to the sports section of your local newspaper or school website.
Remember that no pre-game meal is right for every athlete or event, but some nutritional approaches are better than others. Here are a few tips to consider for pre-game meals:
1. Allow enough time for digestion. Eat at least three hours before an event.
2. Choose a meal that's high in starch. Starch is easy to digest and helps steady blood sugar levels.
3. Consume only moderate amounts of high-quality protein. Protein take longer to digest than starch, and high-protein meals may lead to increased urine production, which can contribute to dehydration.
4. Limit fats and oils. They take too long to digest and can slow you down.
5. Restrict sugary foods. Sweets can cause rapid energy swings in blood sugar, resulting in low levels and less energy.
6. Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the body to increase urine output, which can contribute to dehydration. Plus, a full bladder can be very uncomfortable.
7. Remember to drink plenty of fluids with your pre-game meal.
Learn more about the importance of proper nutrition and how it can help you by watching this interview:
Check out Coach Taylor's SMARTER Team Training podcast below.