Alright, now that we understand how much of a difference pre-game fuel can make, let’s talk a little bit about why it works, and – more importantly – how to properly implement it yourself. We’re going to split this up into two parts: foods you eat days before the game, and foods you eat hours before the game.
For the days leading up to a game or competition, our big focus should be on stocking up on carbohydrates. Our goal with this is to allow our bodies to store these carbs as Muscle Glycogen – which is our body’s primary fuel source for short, intense exercise.1, 2 Without enough of this muscle glycogen, our performance can suffer, and we can hit the wall. So, in the 2-days leading up to a game we recommend eating at least 6 portions of carbohydrates – measured with your cupped hand – per day.
Some of our favorite sources of carbs are:
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potato
- Whole Wheat Pasta
This isn’t an exhaustive list though, and we encourage you to explore different options to find what works for you.
But that’s just in the days leading up to competition – what about game day? We recommend eating one large meal 4-5 hours before your game, followed by a smaller snack about an hour before.
Now, we recognize that some athletes prefer not to eat right before a game – they might
- Jensen, Jørgen, et al. “The Role of Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Breakdown for Regulation of Insulin Sensitivity by Exercise.” Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 2, 30 Dec. 2011, doi:10.3389/fphys.2011.00112.
- Bergström, Jonas, et al. “Diet, Muscle Glycogen and Physical Performance.” Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, vol. 71, no. 2-3, 1967, pp. 140–150., doi:10.1111/j.1748-1716.1967.tb03720.x.