Tobin Heath's Old-School Pre-Game Favorite | STACK 4W

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

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
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 2,129,052
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 32,193,833
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 2,991,729

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 297,020
Add Core Power for Basketball With Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws Views: 4,255,927
Path to the Pros 2015: The Journey Begins Views: 28,363
Load More


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


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Delightful Desserts for the Grill

Weight Loss and the Mediterranean Style Diet

6 Ways to Liven Up Your Winter Diet With Citrus

Start Your New Year With These Holiday-Inspired Smoothies

Kait's Meal of the Month: Healthy Chicken Piccata

3 Holiday Recipes that Won't Ruin Healthy Habits

A Recipe for Healthy Turkey Burgers

Mix It Up With These High-Protein Meatloaf Muffin Snacks

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Eggs

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

4 Easy Recipe Substitutions for Take-Out Food

3 Power-Packed Milkshakes to Boost Recovery

Simply Roasted Sweet Potato Recipes

3 Recipes to Spice Up Chocolate Milk

A Better Baked Ziti

Gain or Lose Weight With Oatmeal Pancakes

5 Non-Boring, Easy and Healthy Canned Tuna Recipes

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

4 Athlete-Friendly Microwave Meals

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Ground Turkey

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Salmon

7 Delicious Muscle-Building Smoothie Recipes

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

3 Summer Shakes That Boost Athletic Performance

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

Vegetarian Recipes for the Carnivorous Athlete

Kait's Meal of the Month: Eggplant Turkey Boats

Kait's Meal of the Month: Roasted Spaghetti Squash

5 Healthy Recipes to Start Your New Year

Paleo-Friendly Meals for CrossFit Athletes

6 Simple Power Recipes for Vegetarian Athletes

Recipe Makeover: Healthy Stuffed Mushrooms

'Ultimate Oatmeal' Recipe For Runners

6 Delicious and Healthy Overnight Oatmeal Recipes

Quinoa Recipes: A Super-Healthy Grain, 5 Ways

Easy Thanksgiving Leftover Meals

Healthy Snack Recipes for Hungry Athletes

Make Gains With This Post-Workout Shake Recipe

Cure Breakfast Boredom With 3 Simple Healthy 'Boosts'

5 Healthy Stuffing Recipes for Turkey Day

Fuel Your Next Run With This Homemade Energy Bar

STACKletes Speak: "Healthy" Purple Drink and Fried Chicken

Protein-Packed Smoothies Without Protein Powder

3 Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Recipes

5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

5 Quick and Easy 5-Ingredient Recipes

4 Post-Workout Shakes for Recovery and Building Muscle