On game day, the pre game meal is key. It’s the last regular meal you’ll eat before you step on the field for game time. So, you want to find the foods that fill you up, don’t upset your stomach and keep you energized.
As part of your sports nutrition plan to optimize your performance, you’ll want to have a game day plan.
The best pre game meals optimize your performance and provide enough calories to keep your energy stores high and blood sugar level.
Have a plan, test it at practices and make sure you have access to the foods that work best for you.
Read on to learn more.
Pre game meal planning
Planning ahead and knowing what foods work best will make the pre game process smoother. So when you can, take stock of a few things:
- What time is the game?
- How many games?
- What time will I wake up and have my first meal or breakfast?
- Will I have 3-4 hours before my game to eat a pre game meal?
- What are my favorite pre game meals?
- What can I make ahead of time?
- What might I need to pack if we’re on the go?
- What snacks and pre game foods do I want to have to eat 1 hour before?
Why should I have a good pre game meal
Whether young or old, soccer players need a healthy pre game meal. While the younger athlete isn’t going all out for 90 minutes, they still need energy to sustain their activity and to help them focus.
Teen and highly competitive athletes may need help in planning ahead to eat the right foods for their pre game meals. Since your games are likely more intense, you’ll need energy and stamina to carry through the full 90 (1).
You may need to add in some healthy snacks at halftime or sneak in a few gulps of sports drinks during injury breaks. We’ll cover this in future posts.
What’s the best time to eat a pre game meal
Generally, you should try to have as many “regular” meals as possible before game. So for competitions in the late afternoon, you should be able to fit in a solid breakfast, snack and hearty lunch.
Plan to eat your regular meal at least 3-4 hours before your game. During this meal, focus on high carbohydrate, moderate protein and fiber, low fat meals with fruit and vegetables on the side. The closer you get to the game, the more you’ll focus on snacks verses full meals.
What should you eat before a game
When it comes to pre game meals, there isn’t a single food or magic combination that works for every athlete. Athletes respond differently to foods during exercise and competition, and it takes some trial and error to find the right mix of timing and foods.
The ultimate goal of the pre game meal is to find the right mix of foods that provides the energy needed to play without causing stomach upset or running out of steam.
Healthy tips for pre game meals
Pre game meal ideas for early morning games
|Cereal and milk + banana|
|Low fat greek yogurt and granola + strawberries|
|Oatmeal + raisins or fresh fruit + non fat milk|
|Toast with peanut butter and jelly|
|French toast + jelly + banana|
|Waffles or Pancakes + jelly + blueberries|
|Mango smoothie + toast|
Pre game meal ideas for afternoon and evening games
|Turkey and cheese sandwich + fruit|
|Strawberry smoothie + half sandwich|
|Chicken noodle soup with side of toast/bread + fruit|
|Rice bowl + protein + veggies|
|Pasta with tomato sauce or pesto + veggies or fruit|
|Burrito with protein + rice + salsa + fruit|
Importance of developing health habits for overall health
While a good pre game meal could improve stamina and endurance for a game, one meal doesn’t take the place of an adequate well balanced eating plan for youth athletes.
Following an athlete diet plan especially in season will ensure you maintain energy, build and repair muscles and support your immune system.
What will you try for your next pre game meal?
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 20 years in public health and nutrition experience. As a performance nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.