Young athletes, particularly teenagers, are often so busy that they ignore proper nutrition. However, eating right and on time can be their secret weapon to performing their best on game day.
If you are an athlete, keeping your body nourished and hydrated can significantly affect the quality of your performance. You should eat a well-balanced meal 2 or more hours before the big game; never play on an empty stomach. Your meal should be full of starch with a portion of protein and vegetables.
Carbs are for energy and your muscles love protein. A great meal option would be 6-oz. of lean protein like turkey, fish, or grilled chicken paired with 1.5 cups of rice or pasta and at least 2 cups of vegetables.
But just as there are great meal recommendations for pre-game, there are also a list of foods and drinks that you should avoid on game day:
Foods with Dairy
One thing that you shouldn’t consume before a game is dairy. Dairy contains lactose and if your gastrointestinal tract is already stressed, the sugar is hard to the stomach to digest. This includes foods that are loaded with cheese.
In fact, most runners avoid dairy entirely at least 24 hours before a big race. Good alternatives are soy and almond milk or lactose-free yogurt.
Fiber helps your body clear out your gastrointestinal tract. Fiber-rich foods can also cause diarrhea, gas, and cramping.
Whole grain foods, nuts, certain vegetables and fruits, and legumes are high in fiber. The most high-fiber foods are bran, cauliflower and broccoli, cabbage, raspberries, romaine lettuce, celery, squash, kidney beans, mushrooms, and oranges.
And while fiber is generally good for you, too much of it within 24 hours of your big game is not recommended.
Every athlete’s stomach is different but many experts discourage athletes to take caffeine before a big game because it can also lead to stomach issues. The last thing you want during your game is the need to suddenly go to the bathroom.
Also, high-caffeinated drinks like coffee and sodas will leave you feeling jittery and anxious which is the last thing you want to feel during competition.
Fatty foods should be avoided by everyone in general. Fatty foods are incredibly hard to digest. And for athletes, eating foods high in fat such as burgers, pizza, and other fried foods could mean dealing with bloating during your game.
Fried foods are greasy and while they are filling and delicious, they will leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Do yourself a favor and skip the junk food before your game.