Fuel Your Game : Pre-Game Nutrition

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Research shows that proper nutrition and hydration before competition can improve performance. Try these food and fluid recommendations to find out what works for you!

Food
• Eat a carbohydrate-rich meal with moderate protein 3 to 4 hours before competition. Examples would be scrambled eggs with oatmeal, peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread
• Choose foods that are familiar to you and well-tolerated. Avoid high fat and high-fiber foods.
• The closer to game time, focus on carbs and fluids.

Fluids
• For optimal performance, enter your competition well-hydrated, but not over hydrated.
• Drink until your urine looks like pale lemonade.
• Electrolytes (primarily sodium) helps your body retain water.  If you are experiencing cramping, try adding salt to the food in your pre-game meal.

Examples
• Cereal with toast and jelly and a fruit and yogurt smoothie.
• Grilled chicken sandwich on a bun with vegetable toppings, mixed fruit cup and a sports drink.
• Spaghetti pasta with tomato and meat sauce, a side salad and a low-fat frozen yogurt cone.

Sports Nutrition FAQ

Why are carbohydrates so important in pre-game nutrition? Carbohydrate stored in your muscles (aka, “glycogen”) is a rapid energy source for your body in both high intensity, short duration and endurance sports. High carbohydrate meals maximize your muscle glycogen stores and keep your blood sugar levels from dropping, which can result in hypoglycemia, loss of concentration, fatigue and weakness. This is why the closer to game time, this is the hero!

Why are high-fat and high-fiber foods not recommended? Fats slow “gastric emptying”, which is the process of food and fluid leaving the stomach. High-fiber foods may cause gastrointestinal upset or abdominal cramping.

Why consume sports drinks or plain carbs when time is short? Liquids are generally more tolerable and empty from your stomach and deliver nutrients to your body faster than solid foods

Roberta Anding, RD

Sports Nutritionist, Houston Astros and Houston Texans

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