Let’s imagine for a second that you are about to take a trip across the cross country in your car. In order to get out of the driveway, your car needs to have gas in the tank. This fuel allows the car to drive. As you drive, you will periodically need to stop and get more fuel for your car at a gas station, or else your car will break down.
Your body is no different than the car in this example. In order for your muscles to move and play your sport, they require fuel. Without any fuel, the muscles quickly become tired (fatigued) which means you are no longer playing at your best. Just like when starting a road trip, you want your body to have fuel in the tank before you begin a game or practice.
Many athletes fail to fuel properly before games and are often choosing the wrong type of fuel for their gas tanks. This results in early fatigue, heavy legs, increased injury risk and an increase in mental mistakes during the game.
Understanding How Macronutrients Affect Athletic Ability
The preferred source of fuel for the muscles during athletic activity is carbohydrate. The best sources of carbohydrates come from grains (rice, oats, cereals, bread, pasta), starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, squash), fruits and fruit juices, and convenience foods/sports foods (granola bars, sports gels/gummies, sports drinks). These types of foods should be prioritized in the meals and snacks prior to athletic activity. Many athletes will load up on protein before games, thinking that they are helping their muscles. While protein is beneficial for muscles, the muscles do not like to use protein as a source of energy during exercise. In fact, protein takes a long time to digest, meaning the fuel stays stuck in the tank (your stomach) instead of getting out to the muscles where it is needed most.
When To Eat Before Your Game
The best way to fuel your body is to have a meal 2-3 hours prior to the start of the game. This meal should consist of mostly carbohydrates and a small portion of protein. For example a plate of pasta with marinara sauce and grilled chicken. For example a grain bowl with rice + quinoa and some grilled chicken.
Then 45-60 minutes before the game, you should eat a small carbohydrate-based snack to top off the fuel tank right before the game. Some fruit, granola bars, a PB &J, or sports gummies would be good options here. It is best to avoid protein foods at this time.
By fueling up with a carbohydrate-rich pre-game meal and subsequent carbohydrate snack, you are ensuring your muscles have not only the right type of fuel but enough fuel to power your muscles through the game and give you the advantage over your under-fueled opponents.
Get Team Meal Delivery From SportsGrub
With SportsGrub, you can access to delicious meals designed to help athletes get the exact nutrients they need before they play their sport or exercise. For more information please contact our team.