Lunch Box Special: Tobin Heath's Old-School Pre-Game Favorite

April 10, 2013 | Featured in the Spring 2013 Issue

Many athletes follow complex eating plans to power up for big games, but not U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team member Tobin Heath. She found her secret weapon inside a kid’s lunch box.

Heath discovered that one of her favorite childhood meals delivers the right balance of glucose and fructose and the right ratio of carbs to protein to provide the energy she needs to stay strong throughout an entire 90-minute game. What is this unassuming mega-meal? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“When exercise is prolonged over an hour, [athletes] need to consume up to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour,” says Asker Jeukenruph, senior director of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. “When you go into this higher range, you need to make sure those carbohydrates are a mix of different types, like glucose and fructose.”

When consumed together, Jeukenruph says, glucose and fructose encourage a more rapid delivery of energy throughout the body. A PB&J sandwich provides both of those carbohydrates in bread and peanut butter.

Heath had occasionally suffered from cramping and low energy during games. She added this formidable fare to her pre-game routine before the 2009 season. What followed was one of her best years ever, including her famed “double nutmeg” against Canada.  (See Behind the Highlights: Tobin Heath’s Amazing Double Nutmeg.)

“Experience has shown me that I don’t need anything fancy,” Heath says. “What I’m eating works for me.” What Heath is eating is at least half a sandwich, just before game time. She also hydrates with Gatorade, which provides the electrolytes she needs in her system to prevent cramps.

“It’s simple and it works for me,” Heath says. “Doing everything nutrition-wise for myself gives me confidence, because instead of thinking mid-game about how hungry I am, all I’m concerned about is winning the game.”

Her confidence and endurance saved the day in the U.S. team’s gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics, when Heath assisted on the winning goal in the 87th minute of play.

To fuel up like Tobin, try one of these PB&J options along with a Gatorade before your next workout or game.

The Classic

  • 2 tbsp. MaraNatha No-Stir Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 1 tbsp. Smucker’s Seedless Blackberry Jam
  • 1 slice Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 350
Fat: 16g
Carbs: 40g
Protein: 12g

Satisfying and Sweet

  • 2 tbsp. Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams
  • 1 tbsp. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 slice Rudi's Organic Bakery Bread, Honey Sweet Whole Wheat

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 300
Fat: 17g
Carbs: 32g
Protein: 12g

The ‘Elvis Lives!’

  • 2 tbsp. Justin’s Honey Almond Butter
  • 1 tbsp. Organic Honey
  • ½ cup banana slices
  • 1 Thomas’s Whole-Wheat Mini Bagel

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 375
Fat: 18g
Carbs: 66g
Protein: 15g

(See also 4 Delicious Muscle-Building Snacks with Peanut Butter.)

Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Must See
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 36,976,813
NFL Wide Receiver Randall Cobb Outworks Everyone
Views: 28,207,060
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 546,272

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 68,298
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 6,362
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 127,960
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,654
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,225
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,612
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,718
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,560,472

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

3 Holiday Recipes that Won't Ruin Healthy Habits

Eat well, celebrate with friends and feel good. Read on for my top tips for how to avoid post fe(a)stivity guilt as well as a few holiday recipes that...

Weight Loss and the Mediterranean Style Diet

Kait's Meal of the Month: Healthy Chicken Piccata

Recipe Makeover: Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms

Kait's Meal of the Month: Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Mix It Up With These High-Protein Meatloaf Muffin Snacks

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Salmon

Rate My Breakfast Plate: How Top Trainers' Breakfasts Stack Up

Simply Roasted Sweet Potato Recipes

3 Recipes to Spice Up Chocolate Milk

Quinoa Recipes: A Super-Healthy Grain, 5 Ways

Fuel Your Next Run With This Homemade Energy Bar

4 Post-Workout Shakes for Recovery and Building Muscle

3 Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Recipes

Cooking for the Cooking-Inept: The Slow Cooker, Explained

Protein-Packed Smoothies Without Protein Powder

4 Easy Recipe Substitutions for Take-Out Food

Gain or Lose Weight With Oatmeal Pancakes

Kait's Meal of the Month: Crock Pot Beef Stew

Paleo-Friendly Meals for CrossFit Athletes

6 Ways to Liven Up Your Winter Diet With Citrus

7 Easy-to-Make Recipes for Gluten-Free Snacks

Start Your New Year With These Holiday-Inspired Smoothies

6 Simple Power Recipes for Vegetarian Athletes

4 Athlete-Friendly Microwave Meals

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

5 Healthy Stuffing Recipes for Turkey Day

3 Power-Packed Milkshakes to Boost Recovery

Cure Breakfast Boredom With 3 Simple Healthy 'Boosts'

7 Delicious Muscle-Building Smoothie Recipes

Lunch Box Special: Tobin Heath's Old-School Pre-Game Favorite

Easy Thanksgiving Leftover Meals

Delightful Desserts for the Grill

5 Non-Boring, Easy and Healthy Canned Tuna Recipes

STACKletes Speak: "Healthy" Purple Drink and Fried Chicken

Make Gains With This Post-Workout Shake Recipe

5 Healthy Recipes to Start Your New Year

A Recipe for Healthy Turkey Burgers

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Ground Turkey

Healthy Snack Recipes for Hungry Athletes

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Eggs

3 Summer Shakes That Boost Athletic Performance

'Ultimate Oatmeal' Recipe For Runners

Kait's Meal of the Month: Eggplant Turkey Boats

A Better Baked Ziti

6 Delicious and Healthy Overnight Oatmeal Recipes

5 Quick and Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes