It’s game day, and you want to perform your best. What can you eat to help elevate your play? Start by eating real foods and stay away from processed foods. I know it can be difficult if you’re hustling to get to your game or match, you might feel like slamming down a bowl of sugary cereal and calling it good. But taking the time to eat a healthy breakfast and bringing along fresh snacks and a good meal can make all the difference in the world.
And let’s not forget to drink lots of water. For most young athletes, water will be your best bet for hydration. If you exercise for 60-90 minutes, it’s very hot, or you have an extremely intense workout, you may also need to replace your electrolytes. But if you do, look for drinks that don’t have a bunch of sugar.
To make sure your day is a success, plan on eating real food and drinking a lot of water.
Start your game day off right with a power-packed breakfast. Look at options that include carbohydrates and protein.
- Eggs, sweet potatoes and veggies
- Oatmeal topped with almonds and sliced bananas
- Potatoes and scrambled eggs served with fruit
- Greek yogurt, berries of your choice and a dash of granola
- Last night’s leftovers (if their healthy)
It’s important for most athletes to have a pregame snack 30-60 minutes before the game. And don’t forget to have a snack post-game later in the day, especially if you’re playing in a tournament all weekend. Snacks should be foods such as easily digestible carbohydrates and small amounts of protein.
- Veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers)
- Raw Nuts/Seeds
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Hummus (with carrots or whole-grain crackers)
- Organic Nut Butters (with whole grain crackers)
- Fruits (Berries, Apples, Oranges, Figs)
- Carbohydrates (Oatmeal, Sweet Potatoes, Brown Rice, Quinoa)
- Organic Jerky
- Homemade energy bars
You should eat a balanced meal two to three hours before the game. The meal should include healthy carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables or fruit. Never skip a pregame meal. And always drink 12-24 ounces of water with your meal to stay hydrated.
- Brown rice, salmon, and roasted vegetables
- Whole-wheat pasta, grilled chicken with sauce and vegetables
- Chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with vegetables
- Whole-wheat turkey, hummus, spinach wrap
Post-game Snacks & Meals
Nutrition after the competition is just as important as fueling up before and during games. Eat a healthy snack containing both protein and carbohydrates within 30-45 minutes after finishing exercise.
- Fruit smoothie with Plain Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese with berries
- Apple and string cheese
- Plain Greek yogurt topped with granola or fruit
- Chocolate milk
- Banana with nut butter
- Homemade protein bar
- Eat a balanced post-game meal one to three hours after a game. This will help with energy and muscle recovery. The meal should contain carbohydrates, protein, vegetables or fruit.
- Turkey chili with whole wheat bread
- Baked salmon with quinoa and vegetables
- Whole grain turkey sandwich with vegetables
- Chicken burrito on a whole-wheat tortilla
- Chicken stir-fry with brown rice
- Poached eggs on whole-wheat toast and fruit
Foods & Drinks to Avoid
Cut out candy, baked goods, fried foods, Nutrition Tips for Game Daychips, pizza, bagels, processed meats, and fast foods. They cause inflammatory responses in your body. And it may help to skip dairy, high-fat, and high-fiber foods on game day. They can be harder to digest while your body is busy exercising, which can cause stomach cramps and other gastrointestinal symptoms. They may also leave you sluggish and tired. Get to know your body and how it reacts to certain foods.
Don’t drink soda, it’s loaded with sugar and calories, and has no nutrients. Say, NO to caffeine-fortified drinks and pass on sugary sports drinks. Your friend on the playing field is water.
Store Food & Snacks Properly
Keep your real food ready to eat. Store meat, cheese, yogurt, eggs and other items that may spoil, in a refrigerator or cooler. Items like nuts and fruit can be tossed in your workout bag.
Eat Healthy Every Day
It’s super important to eat the right foods before your big game and learn what foods help you the most on game day. But the best way to improve your game is to eat healthy foods throughout the season, drink lots of water and allow yourself to play to your greatest potential.