Meal Planning Around Competition: Pregame

Meal Planning Around Competition: Pregame

by:  Tara Boening MS, RD, CSSD, LD

A properly constructed pregame meal can ensure that an athlete has plenty of fuel (glycogen & fat stores) to endure a lengthy bout of activity without feeling sluggish or being distracted by hunger or an upset stomach.  Some factors to consider include: time of day competition will occur, length of competition, type of competition (distance run, power lift, team sport, etc..), and individual preferences.

What to Do:

High Carb – Half to two-thirds of the pregame meal should come from high carbohydrate, easily digestible foods (low in fiber). These foods are the primary source of energy for athletes during activity.  Foods such as pasta, rice, bread, potatoes (with minimal toppings or added ingredients), fruit, vegetables, pretzels and crackers can help to top off glycogen stores and provide glucose to the body that will be readily available during competition.

Moderate Protein – A moderate amount of low fat protein (i.e. chicken breast, eggs, lean beef, turkey lunchmeat or fish) should be included in this meal.  Protein promotes a feeling of fullness and is essential for muscle and tissue repair that may occur during competition.

Low Fat – Foods that are fried, breaded, covered in gravy or cream sauces can take up to 8 hours to digest rendering them unavailable for energy during competition.  If fat is needed for preparation of the pregame meal, choose a healthier version such as 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Timing – The pregame meal should ideally occur 3-4 hours prior to competition.  It is also often suggested that athletes have a small snack approximately one hour prior to competition comprised primarily of easily digestible carbohydrates such as a granola bar, fruit leather, banana or sports drink if food is not tolerated well.

Hydration – Equally as important as the pregame food consumed, is the pregame fluid.  The National Association of Athletic Trainers recommends the consumption of 17-20 oz (2-3 cups) of fluid 2-3 hours prior to competition followed by 7-10 oz (approximately 1 cup) 10-20 minutes prior to starting.

Here are some examples of a good pregame meal:

Morning –

2-3 scrambled eggs made with olive oil

1 cup of instant oatmeal

2 pieces of toast with jelly

Grapes

1 glass of milk and 1 glass of water or sports drink

Large bagel with 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter spread

6-8 oz flavored Greek yogurt

1 cup berries

Water or sports drink

 

 

Afternoon –

Sub sandwich with turkey, cheese, veggies and mustard

Pretzels or baked chips

Banana

Water or sports drink

 

Pasta with red sauce and lean ground beef or turkey

Green Beans

Dinner Roll

Fruit Salad

Water or sports drink

Tara Boening MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a consultant in the Houston, Texas area working with collegiate and professional athletes.  She can be reached at TaraBoeningRD@gmail.com

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