What Should I Eat Before A Big Game?
Whether you play American football or soccer, the game is serious business. Players need to have sufficient energy to physically last through the entire game, and that starts with the right nutrition.
The night before a big game, eat a meal that is high in carbohydrates to fill your muscles with glycogen that will provide energy for the next day’s competition. This meal should also include protein, fats and vitamins and minerals. It is crucial to get a good night’s sleep to prevent a stomach upset and make you feel well-nourished the next day.
You should start to add more complex carbohydrates to your meals three full days before the event, aiming for eight to 12 grams per kilogram of body weight (one kilogram equals 2.2 pounds). This is not an over-the-top, calorie-crazed approach, but simply swapping a few of your usual carbohydrate sources for more complex ones will make a big difference in performance.
Avoid foods that are high in fat, including fried foods and fatty cuts of meat like bacon or hamburgers. These can cause your stomach to feel bloated and cramp up during the game, both of which will affect your performance.
Two to four hours before your game, eat a small meal containing starches and proteins, along with plenty of water. Fruits are a great choice for this, as they contain potassium, which is essential for athletes to have before a match to help prevent muscle cramping and other issues.
If you are unable to eat before the game, a sports drink containing carbs and electrolytes is a great way to keep your blood sugar levels up and replenish the nutrients you lose through sweating. Just be sure to drink it with a little water so it doesn’t become too sweet.
Lastly, drink plenty of water during the game itself to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration, which can lead to fatigue and even heat-stroke. It is a good idea to carry a water bottle with you so that you can easily access it during the game.
Post-game dinner is a perfect opportunity to make up for any missed nutrients during the game. A light meal of baked or broiled lean meat, poultry or fish with whole grains, a side green salad and fruit for dessert is a tasty and healthy option that will give your body the fuel it needs to perform well.
It is also a good idea to consume more protein before a game as the body will need to break down its existing stores of muscle for energy. This will ensure that your muscles are ready to perform and recover after the game is over, allowing you to get more out of your training session and minimize injury risk.
It is also important to hydrate before, during and after your game as you will be sweating a lot. Hydration helps your brain function, and will reduce the possibility of dizziness or fatigue during your game. It is recommended to drink around 2 cups of water in the two hours before the game, then another cup about 15 minutes before your game begins.