Athletes know that their most successful games are usually played when they feel great and have energy to leave everything on the ice.
It’s extremely important that younger guys learn how to eat before games, this will lead to better habits as they grow. While older guys need to be wary of supplementation that will help increase their performance and recovery (supplement article coming soon). Whether you’re a parent with concern for what to cook for your child or an athlete–we’ve made a list of recommendations to assist you.
Always eat breakfast.
No matter the game time, breakfast is important. This is the meal that will be starting your day with energy, skipping this meal will leave you deficient and more susceptible to crashing. Although, your game time will decide the size of the meal–if the game is early then a small meal will usually be best. When it comes to deciding the foods, we’ve made number 3 exactly for that question.
With water there are a few rules you should follow to ensure optimal hydration. On an everyday basis aim to consume half of your body weight in fluid ounces–bodyweight of 120 lbs divided by 2 would equal 60 fluid ounces (around 7 cups of water). When it comes to pre-game water consumption, a good goal is to consume 16-20 ounces (2-2.5 cups) 2-3 hours before the game.
**Water will always trump sugared sports drinks, avoid them as much as you can–constant sugar intake will make you more susceptible to crashing.
Choose real foods-avoid processed.
This sounds like common sense, but in our society processed foods are easier to come by and usually get chosen over something natural. When consuming meals on game day choosing natural foods will result in more sustained energy. These foods will offer more nutrients which will supply your body in the long run. Processed foods have ingredients that your body can’t utilize and will often result in a large spike of energy followed by a crash.
**Whether you’re a parent or athlete, choose natural foods–these are better for energy and healthier in the long run.
Trial and error.
The perfect pre-game ritual doesn’t develop overnight, it takes time to figure out how and what to eat for optimal energy. If you’re new to figuring out your perfect pre-game meal work with one meal at a time, this allows for easy tracking. Once you’ve decided what to eat for one meal, move on to the next and begin building your meal options.
**Don’t wait for games to figure out your ritual, use practices and workouts to mock a game like situation.
Everyone has preferences and tastes, that’s why it’s important to have multiple trial and error runs to see what you enjoy the most. Manipulate foods you don’t like and create meals you enjoy eating. On game day when meals are crucial it’s important to eat things that will make you feel good (non-processed), this usually correlates to playing well. Not every day you’re going to feel like the same meal, this is when meal interchangeability comes into play.
Pre-game nutrition can be simple if you follow our list, the difficult part is finding a consistent ritual that you enjoy. When using the trial and error method you’ll find foods and meals you like and dislike–this leads to options, which will enhance your pre-game nutrition arsenal.