Proper pregame nutrition is the first step to a great athletic experience. Playing sports asks a lot of a child’s body, so fueling the body properly before a big game will help the child focus, have fun, and stay safe during the game.
Plan the Day
Breakfast: Eggs and fruit are the perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates to start the day off right. If you serve potatoes, make sure to grill them lightly rather than fry them, because fried foods will weigh down the athlete and can cause sluggishness.
Lunch: This may be the child’s last meal before the game if it’s being played after school. Make sure lunch includes a healthy selection of protein, fruit, veggies, and whole grains. No light lunches on game day.
Prior to game: On the way to the game, make sure the athlete hydrates and eats a light carbohydrate-rich snack. A peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread will provide a nice energy burst on the field. Consider a half sandwich for younger athletes.
Protein Provides Long-Lasting Energy
Remember that a student athlete is burning many calories and needs plenty of energy on the field. Protein provides sustained energy and carbohydrates give a more immediate burst. The carbohydrates will help the athlete start strong. Combining the carbs with protein will provide long-lasting energy for young athletes to stay in the game.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Thirst sensation is a sign of mild dehydration. Athletes especially need to drink before they are thirsty to maintain their body fluids, because even mildly dehydrated athletes can’t play their best.
Kids need to drink before they go out on the field, and then every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the game. Be sure they have a sturdy water bottle that takes one hand to operate. If a person needs to fuss with the cap to take a drink, he or she is less likely to use it during the game.
Water is the best beverage for sports hydration. If your child isn’t thrilled with plain water, try sprucing it up by infusing it with berries, citrus fruit, or mint.