Eating right on game day is your athlete’s secret weapon for top-notch performance, whatever the sport.
Here’s a sample game day nutrition plan:
• Pre-game breakfast. Gather together the family for a pre-game breakfast about three hours before the event. Serve sliced and lightly grilled potatoes paired with scrambled eggs and fruit such as berries along with calcium-fortified orange juice or fat-free milk for a nutritious pre-game meal.
• Don’t light-load or skip lunch. Many student athletes compete after school making lunch an essential fuel source. Lunch should be hearty and represent as many food groups as possible, including whole grains, lean protein, fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
• During the game/practice. Make sure your child keeps hydrated before, during and after practices and competitions. Dehydration results when your child athlete fails to adequately replace fluid lost through sweating. Dehydration that exceeds 2 percent body weight loss harms exercise performance, so make sure your child is well hydrated throughout the game with small amounts of water. Remind your child to replace fluid losses after exercise with lots of water. Also look to foods such as bananas, potatoes and fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk. They contain potassium and carbohydrates which are important to replenish after exercise.
• Post-practice or afternoon game snack. The hours after practice or a weekday competition may necessitate snacking before your family dinner. Make sure to have pre-prepared snacks ready when your kids arrive home hungry from a tough after-school practice or game. This can include sliced fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and smoothies.
• Post-game family dinner. For a tasty and filling post-game family dinner, include all five food groups — protein, grains, vegetables, fruit and dairy. Serve baked or broiled lean cuts of meat such as chicken breast, salmon or tuna. Include whole grains, for example, whole-wheat pasta with a low-fat tomato or cheese sauce. Toss in vegetables or include a side green salad. Then, complete your meal with fruit for dessert, such as baked apples or pears accompanied by a glass of low-fat or fat-free milk. Or create an instant yogurt parfait with layers of low-fat vanilla yogurt, fresh, frozen or canned fruit, and crunchy whole-grain cereal.
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