Preparation on a Plate: Proper Nutrition Will Ensure Peak Athletic Performance

No matter what sport you play, there’s always that one moment in the game that can make all the difference. But what if I told you the real moment of truth doesn’t happen on the field?

Before the puck drops, before kick-off, and before the first pitch, a game can be won or lost simply by what an athlete eats for a pregame meal. You can spend weeks or even months practicing for a game, but too many times all that preparation is lost due to the effects of poor nutrition. What you eat before a game can make the difference between feeling slow and sluggish or ready and energetic.

But what makes a good pregame meal? What foods should an athlete avoid? Here are some tips for proper pregame preparation.

Eat at the Right Time
The first step for proper game-day nutrition is making sure to eat meals at least three hours before game time. Eating too close to the start of the game can lead to an upset stomach or leave you just as sluggish as eating the wrong foods would.

Eat the Right Foods
When it comes to deciding what to eat, you can’t do much better than complex carbohydrates like pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, bread, and even pancakes. During digestion, you see, the body breaks down these complex carbs into glucose and stores it in the muscles as glycogen, which during physical exertion is then converted back into glucose and used for energy. This process gives athletes the prolonged energy they need to perform at their peak.

Hydrate
In addition to eating the correct foods, it’s also imperative for athletes to properly hydrate before a game. Start the day before, and try to drink plenty of fluids within the 24-hour window before game time.

Avoid Certain Foods
When it comes to what foods to avoid before game time, there are some obvious bad choices and some that might surprise you. High-sugar or fatty foods are a bad idea as a pregame meal because they can slow down digestion, upset your stomach during the game, and result in faster energy depletion.

High protein foods also are a bad choice. While it may come as a surprise to some athletes, since protein is essential for muscle growth and development, it makes a very poor pregame meal because it can slow down digestion just as much as junk foods, thus providing an athlete with very little energy.

Athletes can spend weeks or even months practicing for a game, but too many times all that preparation is lost due to the effects of poor nutrition. A good meal can go a long way in any sport, especially in those last nail-biting moments where games are often won or lost. Getting adequate pregame nutrition can ensure that athletes have the energy they need to succeed during those crucial moments.

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