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What Is The Best Pregame Meal For Various Sports?

Proper nutrition is vitally important for any athlete who wishes to compete at his or her highest physical capability. A daily diet that focuses on well-balanced and healthy meals is the best way for competitors to keep their bodies in peak form. However, the pregame meal is just as important as it becomes the catalyst for a winning or losing performance. Athletes need to understand what foods will help them and what foods may hinder their game day performance.

The meal that is consumed before the game or competition is by far the most important of the day and there are some general guidelines that should be kept in mind during preparation. These meals should not only focus but emphasize carbohydrates. Carbs are quick and easy to digest which allows the athlete’s stomach to be settled in time for play. Foods that are high in fat, fiber or protein should be avoided due to the fact that they take much longer to digest and can actually slow down emptying of the stomach. This may leave a competitor feeling too full and even bloated. Foods that are undigested can also lead to heartburn and cramping. Obviously these ailments could be detrimental to a sports star. Carbohydrates can be immediately transformed into energy, a crucial boost before an athlete takes the field. Large amounts of fluid should also be consumed and like food, they should be loaded with carbs. Sports drinks, fruit smoothies, 100% fruit juice and water are excellent choices

While the general outline of a pregame meal is somewhat universal, there are some significant variations depending on the sport which is being played. For instance, a football player should be pay close attention to what he consumes before play. In fact, the timing of the pregame meals play a crucial role in the success he will have in the big game. It is most beneficial to start with a carbohydrate packed meal hours before the start of the event. An evening game would warrant a breakfast packed full of carbs. Foods should include eggs, fruit and whole grain pancakes or waffles. If play will be conducted in early afternoon, then the previous night’s dinner should become the main focus. A great choice would be pasta dishes made of whole or refined grains. Sauces are best if they are meatless, in order to avoid the protein. As with any physical activity, fluid intake is essential. A light snack should also be consumed within an hour or so of kick-off.

Tennis players should also choose their meals carefully. The general rule of high carbs and low fat still applies and is significantly important to remember for this sport. Intense matches force the body to burn high amounts of glycogen which can only be counteracted by the intake of carbohydrates. Tennis matches can sometimes by incredibly long so proper nutrition is a must in order for the athlete to remain competitive. Competitors should not use the pregame meal as a time to try out new foods or drinks as this can lead to performance altering reactions. Players who have early matches will benefit from a breakfast that combines carbohydrates with dairy products that are low in fat. A banana is a wonderful addition to the meal as it contains potassium. High levels of potassium are lost during a tennis match as players sweat. A starchy lunch will keep energy and endurance at peak performance. An example could be a simple baked potato, without the use of any fatty toppings such as cheese or bacon. Players who are competing in the evening should make sure they have an afternoon snack and early dinner. This will keep them from feeling too full and sluggish. Whole grain pastas, rice, vegetables and lean meats are optimal choices. Fruit salads are also a tasty yet extremely useful dessert.

Athletes of any age should be committed to consuming pregame meals that will adequately fuel their upcoming activity. Even children who are competing should be on a diet that is healthy, well balanced and centered around performance boosting foods or drinks. Blood flow and oxygen levels should be fully accessible to the body during competition, not being diverted from the muscles and brain to digest stubborn foods. Sports allows individuals young and old to be physically active, participate in healthy competition and socially interact at a higher level. However, athletes need to give themselves the best chance at success and this begins with something as simple as the pregame meal.

Ed B Kravitz