What types of foods should I eat before a sports competition?

Unfortunately, there is not a perfect pregame meal. Factors to take into consideration when planning a meal include type of sport, time of competition, and your food preferences.

However, there are some guidelines upon which most nutritionists agree. First, carbohydrates should make up most of your meal. A rule of thumb is one-half to two-thirds of your plate should be carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are important because they add glucose to your bloodstream quickly, giving you a readily available source of energy for the game. Bread, cereals, pastas, fruits, vegetables, and crackers are some examples of good carbohydrates to include in a pregame meal.

Lean sources of protein, like chicken or lean sirloin or strip steak, are also important. Fluid intake should be a big focus of pregame fueling. Water is best. Foods to avoid are those high in fat. Fried or breaded foods and foods with lots of sauce are difficult to digest. These foods will cause blood to be drawn to the stomach and away from active muscles and the brain, resulting in sluggishness.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Appalachian State University Athletic Training Education Program.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.