Nutrition Matters: The Importance of Eating Right Before the Big Game

By Pamela Rosow, MS, RD, CDN, sports nutritionist, Connecticut Children’s

When it comes to sports, we all know practice makes perfect but in order for our bodies to work most efficiently, proper nutrition is vital, both before, during and after the big game. Of course, all adults and children have their own food preferences and aversions but luckily there are so many food options that can support top performance and body function.

Below are some nutrition guidelines to help you plan your child’s pre-game meal.
· Eat a meal about 2-3 hours prior to exercise, 4 hours for rigorous exercise
· The meal should primarily be of carbohydrates to help provide your child with the most energy
· Always include a moderate amount of protein (about the size of the palm of your child’s hand)
· Avoid fatty and fried foods as this requires longer digestion time.
· Minimize high fiber intake right before activity as this can cause bloating and takes longer to be digested (limit beans, fiber cereals & bars etc.)
· Hydrate and eat a food that you tolerate 30 minutes to 1 prior to exercise to provide the stamina your body will need.
· Chocolate milk is a favorite snack for athletes as it provides hydration with carbohydrates and protein

When you’re looking for a quick meal to prepare before your young athlete’s game or practice, the following are great examples that can help your child fuel up.
· Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
· Deli sandwich on a hard roll with lettuce and tomato
· Cottage cheese and cut up fruit or a few cut veggies
· Sports bar and fresh fruit
· Yogurt without candy/cookie toppings
· Trail mix with your favorite combinations of cereal, nuts, dried fruits
· Pre wrapped cheese with crackers

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