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Question:

What should you eat before a lacrosse or soccer game to keep going when you are playing and not get tired? — lincoln, mi

Christine Palumbo

Answer:

What you eat before a game serves two main purposes: To prevent hunger before or during the game and to help supply fuel to the muscles. A good pre-game meal is rich in carbohydrates, has low to moderate amounts of protein and a little fat. But the most important meals are those you eat in the week before your game! You should eat high carbohydrate/moderate protein meals to fuel your muscles all the time.

The night before a 10 a.m. soccer game, eat a high-carbohydrate meal along with plenty of water. On game day, eat a favorite breakfast by 7:00 a.m., to allow several hours for your food to digest. A sample breakfast to eat 3 to 4 hours before your game is 1 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup corn flakes, a medium banana, wheat toast with jam and 8 ounces of skim milk. A sample lunch to eat 3 to 4 hours before is a cup of vegetable soup, 2 ounces skinless chicken, 2 slices bread, 2 slices tomato, a cup of low-fat frozen yogurt and a glass of skim milk. Avoid high fat foods before competition, as they can be difficult to digest and may make you feel sluggish.

Fluid needs are important too. The day before a game, drink an extra four to eight glasses of fluid, so that you are well hydrated. Drink at least two or three glasses of water up to two hours before the game. Drink another one to three glasses, 5 to 10 minutes before the game starts. During the game, drink 5-10 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Drinking a sports beverage that contains 8% carbohydrate during the game can delay the onset of fatigue and enhance performance. This will help minimize the depletion of energy (glucose) from your muscles and liver.

It's also important to eat right after your game. Eating carbohydrates immediately after you exercise, such as fruit juice, a banana, pretzels, or a fruit yogurt will help to replace the storage energy you burned during the game. Good luck to your team!

About Christine Palumbo

Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD has been a nutrition communications consultant since 1989, providing dietary counsel and analysis on various nutrition, health and weight management topics to corporate clients and news media outlets nationwide. An active member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the Illinois Dietetic Association, Chicago Dietetic Association for more than twenty years, she has served on a variety of boards and practice group committees within those organizations. In 1981 and 1982, Palumbo was honored by the Chicago Dietetic Association and the Illinois Dietetic Association, respectively, as the Recognized Young Dietician of the Year.

Palumbo has been featured as the expert speaker in numerous national health panels and has published many articles and pamphlets regarding nutrition and healthcare. She has been featured in national women's, health and business magazines, daily newspapers and local and national radio programs. Palumbo has also appeared on numerous local and national TV news programs, including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997 on the health benefits of drinking water.


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