Do you have a game day nutrition plan? To be at your physical best for an athletic event, you’ll need more than just skill and the right equipment. A rigorous training schedule depletes energy levels, which means student athletes need the right nutrients to stay focused and energized during physical activity.
Use our following nutrition tips to make sure you’re in good shape!
1. Never Skip a Meal
Think of your stomach as your energy tank. If you skip meals, your tank will be running on empty and you’ll struggle while performing any type of activity.
As a student athlete, you should always start your day with a nutritional breakfast. This will get your metabolism going and set you up for high energy levels throughout the rest of the day. Try something with carbs and proteins like cereal, eggs or a fruit smoothie. And since practices and games are held after school, lunch should never be skipped! You’ll need the fuel for all the energy you’ll be burning later on. Make sure to have a hearty lunch with protein, whole grains and veggies.
2. Keep a Schedule
The timing of when you eat is just as important as what you eat. The body needs a few hours to digest full meals like breakfast and lunch, whereas a quick snack like a granola bar only takes about 30 minutes. Make sure not to eat full meals right before practice or a game, and try to avoid overeating. If you keep your snacking light leading up to a game, you’ll be able to avoid cramping and stay light on your feet.
But what if you’re running late and don’t have time to sit down for a meal? You should still make sure to grab something as you head out the door! Fruits, granola bars and smoothies made the night before are great options you can easily take with you if you’re pressed for time.
3. Stay Hydrated
You should be sipping water throughout the day, especially if you have a game or practice coming up. One of the easiest ways to make sure you do this is to carry a refillable water bottle with you. Then you can fill it whenever you pass a water fountain, and carrying it with you will remind you to make sure you’re drinking.
While sodas and energy drinks are a nice treat, they can easily dehydrate you which can put your health at serious risk during exercise. The caffeine in these drinks can also increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Water will keep you hydrated which will prevent your muscles from cramping and help your body maintain an optimal core temperature. But don’t just chug some water right before a game; make sure you’re hydrating consistently in the days leading up to a practice or a game so you can get the full benefits.
4. Snack Smart
That quick bag of chips before a soccer game isn’t doing you any good! Fueling up before a workout can enhance your performance and stamina, but only if you’re eating the right snacks. Junk foods like chips, chocolates and sodas can hinder athletic ability. These snacks are packed with empty calories and sugars that only provide a quick burst in energy followed by a big crash, which can really affect your performance at game time.
Before strenuous activity, choose smart snacks like:
- Fruit smoothies
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Fresh fruit
Snacking on these healthy treats before exercising can also prevent low blood sugar, lightheadedness and excessive fatigue. But if you find that your stomach becomes upset if you snack before exercising, make sure to get the proper nutrition during the day and hours before you’ll be active.
5. Create a Pre-Game & Post-Game Plan
As a student athlete, giving your body the proper nutrition after a workout is just as important as before! After intense exercise, your body will need to repair muscle tissues and regain energy levels. The best way to help your body do this is to refuel within an hour after exercise. Try to consume carbohydrates and proteins within this time to help your body repair itself. Don’t eat anything after exercise that you wouldn’t eat before to avoid dehydration and a loss of nutrients.
After exercise, our doctors recommend drinking chocolate milk. Yes, chocolate milk! This delicious treat is full of carbohydrates and proteins that help replenish energy levels to assist your muscles in recovery from all that physical activity.
Examples of Proteins & Carbohydrates for Student Athletes to Eat
Stuck on what to eat while preparing for a game? Try some of these suggestions.
- Lean meat, fish or poultry
- Almonds or pistachios
- Peanut butter or almond butter
- Greek yogurt
- Whole grain breads
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
Prioritizing nutrition as a student athlete is your best line of defense against fatigue and weakness. You’ll be more focused and alert during a game or practice if your body has enough nutrients to convert into energy! If you have any questions about this, contact one of our Seacoast locations for more information.