Eat right to play right.
You have been practicing, training extra hours, learning new techniques, getting your 8 hours of sleep each night and doing anything you can to get yourself ready for the biggest match of the season. You definitely feel ready, but are unsure what nutrition will keep you going throughout the entire match. We have created a nutrition guide for sports players leading up to the big match, so your food choices and your skill level are both on point. Give yourself an edge by eating right before your match.
When you eat is just as important as what you eat.
Match day nutrition is essential to a successful performance. Eating well on the day of your match only works if you are also eating the right foods all week. Make sure you eat healthy all the time. This includes; fruits, vegetables, salads, eggs, pastas, toast with jelly, potatoes, whole grain bread and rice etc. If you are an athlete, you should be eating your fair share of carbohydrates (not high-fiber carbs) as these are what give you the stamina in your long lasting matches.
Most of the energy you use when playing a match comes from what you ate the day before a match.
What to Eat the Night Before (in moderation):
- Pasta with red sauce, chicken, shrimp or beef.
- Meat and steamed veggies.
- Fish with sweet potatoes or steamed vegetables.
- Sandwich with meat and veggies.
- Lean meat, cheese and crackers
*Your plate should be 50% carbs, 15-25% protein and 15-25% vegetables and 20-30% healthy fats.
Follow this guide to know when to eat for different meal sizes on your match day, so you have enough time for digestion. You should never eat anything new on game day.
- Allow at least 3-4 hours of digestion time for a large meal
- 2-3 hours of digestion time for a smaller meal
- 1-2 hours of digestion time for blended or liquid meals
- Less than an hour of digestion time for a small snack.
What to Eat the Day of a Match (in moderation):
- Fruit or fruit bars
- Whole wheat bread (Toast with Jelly)
- Whole wheat cereal
- Eggs, cottage cheese, low-fat greek yogurt or milk
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Protein shake
*Breakfast should be a mix of protein, fats and easily digestible carbs
- Fruit (helps with hydration- watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes)
- Fruit smoothie (oranges, pineapples and strawberries)
- Saltine crackers
- Low-fat greek yogurt
- Lean protein
- Granola bar or Power bar
*With an hour or less for game time, these foods will give you fast-acting energy. These are also great foods if you have time for lunch before your match.
*Sports drinks (not energy drinks) and watered down juices can be helpful for extra energy on game day. Sports drinks (like gatorade) are recommended for long matches (over an hour) to replenish electrolytes and to give your muscles carbohydrates, so they keep working hard for you.
Make sure you are eating well all week to ensure you have the best performance on game day. Try new foods and food variations to learn what your body does the best with, so on match day, you are ready to go!
Remember: everyone is different. Each person metabolizes food differently and each of us performs better with different amounts of food in us.
It is key to stay hydrated before, during and after your match. Hydration is just as important as your nutrition and you should be drinking enough liquids starting 2-3 days before your match. Your body loses lots of water when you sweat, so it is important to keep hydrated during your match too.
This is what is recommended if you are playing a sport, but is a good guide to have and use before a pool match too because we can never drink too much water!
- Two hours prior: drink 20 oz. of water
- One hour prior: drink 16 oz. of water
- 15 minutes prior: drink 8 oz. of water
After the match, you need to help your body recover by replacing the carbohydrates you used, 10-20 grams of protein for continued energy and rehydrate with water or a sports drink. This is recommended within 30-45 minutes from the completion of your match.
What are your match day tips and tricks for nutrition? What do you eat to feel and perform your best? Tweet us @thedelta13