When it comes to performing on game day, what you eat for a pre game snack can have a big impact. Snacks provide the energy and nutrients your body needs for optimal performance.
A healthy snack before your game tops off your fuel stores so you’re ready for the highest level of competition.
In this post we’ll share some basics about the best time to eat pre game snacks. Additionally, we’ll give you some easy ideas for nutritious and high carbohydrate snacks to fuel for play.
What is the best snack before a game
The best snack right before a game should be easily digestible and high in carbohydrates: pretzels, animal crackers, gummies, fig bar, grapes, goldfish crackers, sports drinks and whole grain toast.
As you get closer to game time, avoid foods high in fiber, fat and protein because these take longer to digest and can cause stomach upset.
When should you eat a pre game snack
Ideally you should eat a larger pre game snack 60-90 minutes before your game. This way you can eat a more substantial snack, allow some time to digest and add energy stores to your muscles. (1)
About 30 minutes before game time, you’ll want to eat an easy to digest high carbohydrate snack to top off your energy stores.
One meal or one snack won’t provide what you’re body needs. Therefore, you need to eat meals and snacks consistently, especially on game day.
What should I eat 30 min before a game
About 30 min before a game, you should eat a high carb easy to digest snack. Here are some suggestions:
- granola bars
- graham crackers
- goldfish crackers
- whole grain toast
- fig bars
- sports drink
- orange slices
What should I eat 1 hour before a game
About an hour before a game, you should eat a high carb lower protein snack. This will boost your carbohydrates for energy stores. Also, protein will slow digestion so you feel full and satiated.
What are good pre game snacks
Some good pre game snacks to eat at least 1-2 hours before a game include:
- Bananas, toast and nut butter: Toast some whole grain bread and spread on nut butter, then top with sliced banana. This provides carbohydrates for energy and protein and healthy fats to help keep you feeling full and satisfied.
- Low fat greek yogurt and berries: Yogurt provides protein, and fresh berries, like strawberries, provide antioxidants and carbohydrates for energy. Also, adding some granola or dried cereal can boost the fuel from carbohydrates.
- Energy bites or bars: Energy bites and bars are great portable snacks that can be made in advance and taken with you on the go. Generally, they’re made with oats, nut butter and other nutrient-dense ingredients including dried fruit.
- Trail Mix: Trail mix is a classic on-the-go snack for athletes because it can easily be tucked into a gear bag pocket. Choose a mix or make your own. Include nuts, seeds and dried fruit for a balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats.
- Hard-boiled eggs, fruit and crackers: Hard-boiled eggs are an easy and portable snack that can be paired with a piece of fruit or crackers.
- Hummus, veggie sticks and crackers: Hummus made from chickpeas provides a good source of carbohydrate, plant based protein and fiber. Pairing hummus with some fresh veggie sticks or whole grain crackers.
- Apple slices and peanut butter: Apples are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber, and can provide sustained energy. Spread apple slices with nut butter for a crunchy and salty snack.
- Rice cakes and avocado or nut butter: Rice cakes are a gluten free carb that provides carbohydrates for energy. Add some avocado or nut butter for healthy fats and nutrients.
- Smoothies with fresh fruit and yogurt: Smoothies are a great way to pack in a variety of nutrients before the game. Try blending together some fresh fruit and low fat greek yogurt for a balanced snack.
- Turkey or tofu and cheese roll-ups: Turkey or tofu roll-ups on a whole wheat tortilla are a simple and easy carbohydrate and protein packed snack. You can make these in advance to eat on the go.
- String cheese and whole grain crackers: Low fat string cheese paired with whole grain crackers are another easy and portable healthy snack since you can stash in your lunch box or cooler.
Eating easy-to-digest carbohydrate snacks can help provide the energy you need to perform your best during your game.
By incorporating these snacks into your routine, you can fuel your game and stay at the top of your game.
Just make sure to eat more substantial snacks at least 1 hour before the game to avoid any digestive issues. Then 30 minutes before game time, top off your stores with an easy to digest carb.
As part of your sports nutrition plan, you’ll want to build in snacks in for game day nutrition.
Some of these snack ideas can also be used for post game snacks too. You can pair any of these high carb ideas with chocolate milk for a recovery snack.
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian 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.