You Are What You Eat- and WHEN You Eat It! Game Day Strategies

This was probably the biggest lesson I learned when researching the subject of Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes…WHAT our athletes eat is important, but almost more important is WHEN they eat it!  When I speak to young athletes and their parents, I explain that our blood supply can only go one of two places; either to digest food, or to the muscles and brain to help athletic performance. So don’t send you kid on to the field running with half a bagel in his mouth!

The body needs a considerable amount of time to digest food, so it is important to have a plan when it comes to timing meals and snacks before, during and after games. Below is a table I created and use frequently to remind my family of when to eat meals and snacks. Doctor Jacq’s Timetable is a great visual reminder of when to eat and when to start pre-game hydration!

                                     Doctor Jacq’s Timetable


Time before Gametime





    2-4 hrs before     

Pre-Game Meal

16 oz fluid

1-2 hrs before

Pre-Game Snack

8-16 oz fluid

0-1 hr before


8 oz fluid


Halftime – Fruit

5-10 oz every 15-20 min

0-1 hr after

Post-Game Snack

As much as possible!


  • Pre-Game Meal: Make sure your athlete eats a meal 2-4 hours before his/her event and begins hydrating at that time. The meal should consist of mostly carbohydrates (about 80% from rice, bread, pasta, potatoes and fruits and vegetables) with a small amount of protein (15% from beans, fish, chicken, eggs meat) and a little fat (5% from nuts, cheese, butter, oil). 
  • Pre-Game Snack: If needed, a light snack consisting mostly of carbohydrates. Keep drinking!
  • Game time/Halftime: More water! If time permits, fruit high in water content recommended.
  • Post-Game Snack: make sure to offer a small snack within 30 minutes after a game, what’s known as the “golden window.” This snack should have a carbohydrate:protein ratio of 4:1. For more on Post-Game snacks, click here

The following table gives examples I have used for each type of meal and snack:






Pre-Game Meal

(2-4 hrs before)

  • Whole grain cereal with milk
  • Oatmeal with honey, raisins or dried fruit
  • Chicken noodle soup, salad and bread
  • Rice, pasta, noodles with chicken, fish, beans & veggies
  • Whole wheat sandwich, roll or wrap with turkey, chicken, ham and salad.

Pre-Game Snack

(1-2 hrs before)

  • Home made muffin
  • Toast with honey and a banana
  • Small fruit smoothie
  • Granola bar
  • Fruit


  • Watermelon
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Apples

Post-Game Snack

(0-1 hr after)

  • Crackers, cheese and grapes
  • Bread, peanut butter and banana
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Turkey rollup with veggies
  • fruit salad or fruit kabobs with yogurt
  • Homemade trail mix with nuts and dried fruits
  • low fat chocolate milk.

So next time your child has a game, make sure to have Doctor Jacq’s Timetable for a game-winning eating plan!

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3 Responses to “You Are What You Eat- and WHEN You Eat It! Game Day Strategies”

  1. Peter

    Doctor Jacq, this is fantastic stuff!
    I’m going to print this up and hand it out to the team.

    Thank you!

  2. Jodi Most

    Great, great info!!!! So important

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