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What are good meals to eat before a tough workout or game? 

By Rasa Troup, RD, LD, CSSD, OLY

Timing for pre-workout/competition meals and snack is a key to help your body to be fueled well before your workout so you can have more fuel in your body and in turn, you can have a higher quality workout session.  It is also a key in having a competitive edge against your competitors.  Planning your meals and snacks before your workouts and competitions is important.  Ideally you would like to have a regular size meal 3-4 hours before your competition, small meal (e.g. 1/2 turkey sandwich, banana, sports drink, water) 2-3 hours before competition, small snack 1-2 hours before competition, and mostly liquids 30 minutes before competition.  Quantities of foods will vary depending on your body size and your sport or event.   You will compete at your best when you have little or no food weighing you down in your stomach and you choose foods that digests easiest and quickest (high carbohydrate food) = more energy forwarded to your blood stream and working muscles.  Also, it is good to experiment before your workouts how close and what can you eat before your competition.  Do not try new foods before your game; stick with foods that you tested before your workouts.

Have meals that are high in carbs and contain protein with a small quantity of healthy fat.  Try to combine 4-5 food groups (grains, protein, dairy, fat, vegetables and fruit) for your meals and 1-3 food groups for your snacks.  Each person has a different tolerance to foods prior to workouts and competitions, there is no one size fits all advice that I can give.  Some people may have a regular size meal and would be OK, and some may need to resort to liquids or small snacks leading to workouts and game.

Tips for pre-competition/workout breakfast:

·       Larger portions of: Cold cereal, hot cereals like cream of wheat or oatmeal, pancakes and waffles, toast, English muffins, bagels, and tortillas, muffins, fruit and fruit juice, milk, chocolate milk, and yogurt, soymilk and soy yogurt, sports drinks, energy bars and gels, energy drinks.

·       Smaller portions of: Poached, boiled or scrambled eggs, lean ham, turkey, or chicken, chicken sausage, turkey, Greek yogurt.

Tips for pre-competition/workout snacks and meals:

·       Larger portions of: pasta and red sauce, macaroni and cheese, vegetable soup, baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, rice, couscous, quinoa, bread, bagels, pita, and tortillas, fruit, fruit juices, milk and yogurt, soy milk and soy yogurt, frozen yogurt, pudding, cheese sticks, frozen fruit bars, sports drinks, energy bars and gels.

·       Smaller portions of: Lean meats including turkey, chicken, fish, pork loin, ham, and roast beef, eggs, tofu, veggie burger, soy nuggets. 

Suggestions for meals 3-4 hours prior to workouts/competition:

·       Baked potato with chicken and steamed veggies

·       Breakfast cereal with milk, fruit, and peanut butter

·       Sandwich

·       Peanut butter sandwich with fruit and yogurt

·       Bread roll with cheese/meat and banana

·       Cold pasta salad with meat

·       Pasta or rice with tomato, vegetables and lean meat

·       Full or half burrito with lean meats, cheese, and rice.

Suggestions for snacks 1-2 hours prior to workouts/competition:

·       Milk shake or fruit smoothie

·       Yogurt with granola

·       Granola/sports bars

·       Breakfast cereals with milk

·       Fruit with yogurt

·       Sports drink and fruit with peanut butter

Suggestions for snacks less than 1 hour prior to workouts/competition:

·       Sports drinks

·       Carbohydrate gel

·       Granola/sports bars

References:

1.     Clinical Sports Nutrition Edited by Louise Burke and Vicki Deakin

2.     101 Sports Nutrition Tips, Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, LD

3.     Sports Nutrition Guidebook, Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

Rasa Troup, RD, LD, CSSD, OLY is the sports nutritionist for the Minnesota Twins. A registered (RD) and licensed (LD) dietitian and former Olympian, Rasa specializes in nutrition for health, well-being, performance, exercise, disordered eating and eating disorders. Rasa holds national records in the 3,000-meter steeplechase home country of Lithuania and represented Lithuania in the World and European track and field championships as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics. While studying at the University of Minnesota, she earned All-American honors in cross-country. For more information, visit her website at http://www.rasatroup.com/category/blog/

 

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