Nutrition and Pregame Preparation

Nutrition is often overlooked as a potential competitive edge possibly because it is poorly understood. It has been shown that proper eating before exercise improves performance. It is also important to be well hydrated before the exercise session. Too many high school athletes head off to school without eating breakfast, lunch may be a slice of pizza. At this point they, with very little fuel in their system, they are not prepared to be their best at game time or even practice.


Some signs that an athlete may not be eating enough to fuel their performance are:

  • Difficulty paying attention in practice or in a game.

  • Weight loss

  • Fatigue before the practice or games have been completed.

  • Injury or frequent illness.

Nutrition Tips

If you are an athlete or simply someone who likes to stay physically active, your diet should be composed of the following important nutrients:

Carbohydrates: (55-65 % of your total daily calories). Examples include pastas, pancakes, rice, breads, cereals, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Proteins: (10-15% of your total daily calories). Examples include meats, chicken, turkey, pork, fish and dairy products.

Fats: (20-30% of your total daily calories) Fats naturally occur in many foods, with some foods having higher fat content than others. Athletes should learn the fat content of common foods, minimize high fat foods, and use fat-laden condiments such as butter, margarine, oils, gravies, etc. in moderation. While most athletes do not need to make any special effort to consume enough fat, understand that some fat in your diet (preferably unsaturated fat) is necessary for health.

Other essential nutrients your body needs include vitaminsminerals (both preferably from natural food sources) and water.



Pre-Game Nutrition Guidelines:


4 or more hours before game:

  • Sandwich with lean meat such as turkey or ham, fresh fruit or juice, lowfat milk or lowfat yogurt.

3 hours before game:

  • Fruit or juice, bagel or toast with a little peanut butter, light cream cheese or margarine or cereal with lowfat milk and fruit.

1-2 hours before game:

  • Fresh fruit or fruit juice or a sports beverage.

Foods higher in fat and protein such as steak and eggs, pizza, nachos, and hot dogs will leave the stomach very slowly and be unavailable for fuel during exercise and should be avoided immediately before exercise.


To help keep athletes well hydrated, encourage them to:

  • Stop at the drinking fountain between classes.

  • Bring a water bottle to school and to practice so that they may take frequent water breaks.

  • Drink fluids with their breakfast and lunch.

  • During practice and in game situations to drink during time outs or breaks in play, and to drink even in they claim they are not thirsty (since thirst is not a good indicator of hydration)

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