What Should YOU Eat Before A Game?

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What Should YOU Eat Before A Game?

Emily R Pappas, MS Exercise Physiology

Gameday is here. What you eat FUELS how well you will perform & recover later.

When considering what to eat before your game, consider what your body NEEDS to allow you to play at your highest level.



Giving your body the energy it needs to FUEL your performance is crucial.  Before a game, you need to consume the preferred energy source for your muscles so it is accessible and easily delivered & absorbed by your muscles when they need it most. 

This preferred source is SUGAR.  In your game, your muscles need to perform FAST and POWERFULLY.  This type of activity relies solely on the ANAEROBIC SYSTEM. because it provides energy AS FAST AS POSSIBLE to your muscles.

SUGAR is the only fuel that can be broken down through this system.

(fats and protein take MUCH longer to be broken down for energy and rely on the AEROBIC system)

Complex carbs, such as whole grains and fruits, are the best type of sugar for your muscles before your game.

Unlike simple carbs, complex carbs contain FIBER that helps slow down digestion. This is IDEAL before your game because it ensures the sugar is released into your bloodstream at a STEADY rate. 

 This slower rate ensures your muscles are steadily fueled throughout the game so you are able to perform your best from start to finish. 


Fats, though also a source of energy, should be kept to a minimum before heavy activity.  It takes your body much longer to break down fats into usable energy as it relies on the AEROBIC system.  Fats are great fuel for lower intensity activity that does not require your muscles to contract HARD and FAST. 

For an athlete on game day, relying on fats for your energy will SLOW you down right when you need it most!  

Even more, fats slow down digestion!  Having a meal high in fat before your game will require more blood to hang out in your digestive tract to assist in digestion.  More blood flow directed towards your digestive tract = less blood flow to your contracting muscles!  Less blood flow at the muscles in your game means less energy + oxygen and a SLOWER performing athlete. 

When considering what to eat before your game, focus on fast energy from complex carbs (like oatmeal, fruit, potatoes, rice) and minimizing fats (like fried foods, added oils, full-fat milk, + fatty meats) to ensure your muscles receive the fuel and blood flow they need to perform!



Besides fueling your muscles DURING your game, what you eat helps fuel the recovery process AFTER.

Protein is a BUILDING BLOCK for your muscles (as well as many other cells in your body such as your skin, hair, and nails).  Unfortunately, your body is unable to store protein for later use (unlike carbs and fats which are stored in the body for later as glycogen and fat stores).

The only “storage” site for protein in your body is your MUSCLE.  For an athlete who relies on her muscles to perform, breaking down this storage site is not going to benefit her performance on game day. 

When you do not consume enough protein in your diet, your body must BREAK DOWN its limited protein stores to help provide other cells the structural protein it needs. 

Breaking down your muscle is DETERMINTAL for an athlete who wants to perform and reduce her chances of injury. 

Before your game, Mixing some protein ensures your muscles have the building blocks needed for later recovery and muscle retention! When you set the stage for better recovery, you’re enabling yourself to keep your training levels and performance high. 



When considering what to eat before your game, focus on Complex CARBS for energy and PROTEIN for recovery.


Give it a test drive - try this deliciously nutritious bagel recipe before your next tough workout.



Whole wheat bagel

1 scrambled egg + 3 scrambled egg whites

1 tbsp almond butter

1/tbsp jelly + blueberries

Sprinkle of feta cheese

What is YOUR favorite pregame meal? COMMENT BELOW!