Pre-Game Nutrition

What you eat every day can have a big effect on how you perform. What you eat right before an event can be critical. Wrong choices can be disastrous. Right choices can give you a competitive edge.

While the pregame meal can supply your body with significant amounts of energy, don't expect it to supply all of the energy you'll need for the event. You should eat the right foods for several days before the event to charge up your muscles with glycogen. Glycogen is a key energy source your muscles use during most sports activities. Once glycogen stores are exhausted, it takes at least 2 days to fully restore them. So start preparing at least two days before, or better yet, make healthy choices every day!

Here are some tips to help keep glycogen reserves up:

  • Start each day with a good breakfast. Cold cereal, milk, toast, fruit (or fruit juice) makes an easy quick meal providing plenty of starch 
  • Select meals that contain foods from all 5 food groups. Our bodies use nutrients more efficiently when they are consumed together, 
  • Use snacks as another opportunity to power up with quality carbohydrates - But remember to make HEALTHY snack choices! 
  • Give carbohydrates extra emphasis at least 2 days before the game. 
  • Drink plenty of fluids - even at mealtimes to prevent dehydration.

Pre-Game Guidelines

Although the pregame meal won't cause large increases in muscle glycogen, it will help avoid hunger during the event; stabilize blood sugar levels, and add some food energy to compliment existing energy stores of muscle glycogen. It should hydrate the body, provide a relatively empty stomach at game time, and help prevent an upset stomach or other adverse reactions to food.

  • Allow enough time for proper digestion. Eat the pregame meal at least 3 hours before the event.
  • Choose a meal that's high in starch like whole grain breads, cereals, & pasta. Starch is easy to digest and helps steady the levels of blood sugar. 
  • Consume only moderate amounts of protein, such as lean meat, chicken, & eggs. Protein foods take longer to digest than starch. A high-protein meal could lead to increased urine production, which can add to dehydration. 


Menu Suggestions

  1. Cereal, banana slices, milk, toast/jam, pineapple juice, water.
  2. Poached egg, toast/jam, milk, OJ, water.
  3. Pancakes, applesauce, milk, grapejuice, water.
  4. Chicken noodle soup, crackers, orange, low-fat yogurt, water.
  5. Turkey sandwich/bread & lettuce, apple, milk, tomato juice, water.
  6. Low-fat cottage cheese, peach, breadsticks, milk, apple juice, water.
  7. Spaghetti/tomato sauce, bread, milk, apple juice, water.

Daily Diet Basics

  • 2-3 servings of lean meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs (1 serving is 3oz)
  • 3-4 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese (1 serving is 1C of milk or 1 1/2oz cheese)
  • 6-11 servings of whole grain breads, rice, cereals & pasta (1 serving is one slice bread or 1C pasta, rice or cereal).
  • 2-4 servings of fruit (1 serving = 1 piece of fruit , 1C juice )
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables (1 serving = 1C cooked or raw) 

Tracee Sidell  C.N.C., C.S.N.C. 
Certified Sports Nutrition Counselor