Eat Well, Play Well

December 31, 2019
By Nate Bennett

You are ready to crush it…except you’re forgetting one important ingredient:


Nutrition can make or break you. Can make or break your physical energy, your clarity of mind. Can make or break your big meeting, opponent, or workout. It stands to reason, then, that you need to put the same amount of thought into eating as you do into your workout and skills training.

How, though? How can you make the right choices?

Well, before you shrug and run through the drive-thru for a breakfast burrito on the road to your moment, read up on what qualifies as a good pre-activity nutrition choice.

Regardless of your sport, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for your body and brain. After all, bodies rely both on the carbohydrates consumed before competition and carbohydrates stored in your muscle and liver (glycogen) to fuel activity. For athletes, carbohydrate intake is important throughout the day, and especially important right before competition.

Eat a well-balanced meal 3-4 hours before game time, allowing adequate time for digestion. When your body is busy powering physical activity, it can’t dedicate as much effort to breaking down food. The last thing you want is a belly full of food bouncing around when you are trying to perform at a high level. This meal should be high carb, moderate protein, and low in fat and fiber. The goal of this meal is to top off your energy stores, fuel activity, and minimize gastrointestinal discomfort.

If you’re competing early in the morning, a meal this far out isn’t always feasible, in which case a well-balanced, carbohydrate-rich meal the night prior is important. Close to the time for competition you should eat smaller meals and emphasize carbohydrate intake.

Within 30-60 minutes before competing, have a snack containing 30-60 grams of carbohydrates. The goal of this pre-game snack is to fuel the body to perform optimally. Some examples of a pre-game snack include: a piece of fruit, a granola bar, fig bars, half a bagel, yogurt with fruit, an English muffin, dried fruit, applesauce, a gel, a carb-rich sports drink or smoothie.

As with the pre-game meal, this snack should be minimal in fat and fiber, and low in protein. Stick with familiar foods before games and use training and practice as an opportunity to test out your pre-game snack choices. Which option provides you with the most energy? Which option doesn’t upset your stomach? Practice and emphasize pre-game nutrition like you train for your sport and take your game to the next level.

Have questions? Need help developing a game winning fueling plan? Connect with Mamba Sports Academy’s in-house Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Jessica Isaacs, RDN and upgrade your game.

You can contact her here, via email at jessicai@sa-to.local, or on the phone at 1 (844) 518-7246.

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