Food is fuel for the athlete and it can either help or hinder athletic performance greatly. It’s important to understand what types of food you should be eating in the hours leading up to game time to maximize performance. Your meal 3-4 hours before your game, event, or hard training session should consist of all three macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat). Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for your muscles, regardless of the type of activity you’re performing. A diet low in carbohydrates leads to early fatigue, decreased endurance, power, and mental focus. Quality sources of carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, oats, pasta, rice, and a variety of other whole grains.
As game time approaches, the size of your meal or snack should decrease. The diagram below shows how your pre-workout snack (1-2 hours before) should consist mainly of carbohydrates with very minimal protein and fat. This high-carb snack should be lower in fiber, as too much fiber right before game time could lead to GI issues (i.e. bloat, gas, diarrhea, cramps). Some examples of pre-workout foods include pretzels, crackers, cereal, sweet potato, dried fruit, English muffin with jelly, or a granola bar.