Basic Pre-Game Fueling Tips

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Eating properly before a game is crucial to delivering your best performance. It's not enough just to grab something to eat on your way to the game. Master pre-game nutrition with the help of Gatorade, and dominate your opponents.

Time It Out

You should eat a pre-event meal one to four hours prior to action, and it should be rich in carbs but contain little or no protein, fiber or fat, according to Kimberly Stein, Ph.D., Senior Principal Scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). Stein says that this will minimize the risk of an upset stomach. How much should you eat? Stein says, "The actual amount depends on when the meal is eaten and how your stomach handles food before a practice or game." Don't overload your body right before you take the field.

Get Your Carbs

Eating before training or competition tops off the body's carbohydrate stores (called glycogen), especially if the activity is in the morning. Carbs are the primary fuel source for muscle contraction, so it's important for athletes to start practices and games with enough carbs stored in their bodies.

"Ingesting carbs within the hour prior to training or competition essentially begins to meet the athlete's during-exercise fueling needs, and may also decrease his or her feelings of hunger," says Stein. Like the size of a pre-game meal, the amount of carbs and how they're consumed—in a drink or through food—are up to you.

Drink Up

Athletes should drink about five milliliters (or 0.17 oz) for every two pounds of bodyweight about four hours before competition, says Stein. So, multiply 0.17 oz by half your bodyweight to find out how much you need to drink before games. Not sure if you're dehydrated? See our test below to find out.

Dehydration negatively affects an athlete's performance, especially in hot and humid conditions. Even as little as two percent dehydration (a three pound weight loss in a 150-pound athlete) can cause a decrease in performance.

How do you know if you are dehydrated?

  • If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you're dehydrated.
  • Am I thirsty?
  • Is my urine a dark yellow color?
  • Is my body weight noticeably lower than yesterday?

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