What you eat every day can have a big impact on how you perform. Consistency is KEY! What you eat right before an event can also be critical…do NOT sabotage all your hard work by eating the wrong things at the wrong times!
You have heard me speak of the young athlete’s body as a machine, an expensive race car. It needs constant high quality fuel to perform at its best. How you “top off your tank” can maximize your performance and give you that Nutrition Edge. We discussed Doctor Jacq’s time table in the WHEN to eat Blog, so today I want to give some ideas for pre-practice/pre-game snacks that will “top off your tank” adequately and help you achieve your best!
What the Pre-Game Snack Will Do For YOU:
- It will help avoid hunger during the event (practice or game)
- It will stabilize blood sugar levels and add energy to your existing stored glycogen (read all about glycogen here)
- It will adequately hydrate your body for peak performance
Rules of Pre-Game Eating:
- If you only have 1-2 hours before your game/practice, do NOT eat a full meal!
- 65%-75% of the calories should come from carbohydrates
- Snacks should be 100-300 calories, depending on how big your last meal was.
- Do NOT try new foods on competition day! Try them during practice and see how you feel.
- Don’t forget about the fluids! Start hydrating a few hours before competition or practice.
- Foods to AVOID: candy, tea/coffee, fried foods, high fat meats, fruit-flavored drinks, soda
- whole-grain bread, crackers, tortillas, or pretzels
- whole-grain cereal (as long as its not high in sugar)
- low-fat cheese, yogurt or pudding
- apples or bananas with a little peanut butter
- baked chips and salsa or hummus
- carrot, snap peas, cucumbers
- homemade trail mix (dark chocolate covered raisins, nuts, pumpkin seeds, home made popcorn)
- mini bagels with peanut butter or cream cheese
- homemade banana muffin (check out my recipe here)
- toast with peanut butter + banana
- granola/energy bar (NOT too high in protein)
I’ve shared with you my favorite pre (or post)-game banana muffins, always a hit with the kids. Below is a recipe for Almond, Cherry and Oat Bars; great for an hour before practice or game! Best home made bar ever! Each bar has under 300 calories, 32 g of carbs and 10 g of protein!
Almond, Cherry and Oat Bars
12 ounces (2 1/2 cups) almond flour/meal
3 ounces (3/4 cup whole wheat flour
16 ounces dried cherries, chopped
4 ounces (1/2 cup) honey
4 ounces (1/2 cup) raw almond butter ( or any other nut butter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
10 ounces (2 cups) natural, whole, toasted almonds
4 ounces (1/2 cup) mini dark chocolate chips (optional)
8 ounces (1 cup) thick rolled, toasted oats
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Combine the almond flour, whole wheat flour, cherries, honey, almond butter and vanilla in food processor, and puree until well mixed, forming a paste.
- In a bowl, add the toasted almonds, pepper, toasted oats and mini chocolate chips, if using.
- Add the paste to the almond and oats mixture, and knead until almonds and oat mix has been taken in and distributed evenly.
- Transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 14-15 minutes at 325 degrees F.
- Once finished and cooled, place in refrigerator with another baking sheet on top, to set the bars.
- Once set and cooled, remove from refrigerator and cut into 20 bars. Can be stored at room temperature in air tight container for up to 5 days.
Happy Pre-Game Snacking!