An article I wrote for jucoreport.com
This Sunday I will be covering the JucoReport.com Battle of the South Jamboree, where these guys will be playing 3 games in one day. When I have covered these types of events in the past I see one major trend, the athletes’ performance suffering toward the end of the day. The athlete has done all the right things; getting their shots up, lifting weights, and working on their conditioning but their nutrition before and during is lacking.
What to Eat the Night Before
A coach who I played for had it right, “What you eat tonight, is what you will play on tomorrow.” This is especially true when the games begin early in the morning. The night before will set you up for success as it will allow you to wake up in the morning with a full tank. With my athletes, I usually recommend a large meal high in good carbs with a moderate amount of protein. A bad carb would be considered any carb that is quickly broken down and provide a quick short burst of energy. Any item containing a high sugar content would be a bad carb. A good carb, such as a whole wheat spaghetti, will breakdown slower therefore providing energy over a much longer period of time. The protein is recommended as it helps repair the broken down muscle tissue that occurs during heavy bouts of exercise. This protein source could come from chicken, fish, or lean meat. This protein will also help your body recover the next day, allowing you to have the strength in your third and fourth game. Eating right the day before will help set your body up with the fuel it needs to perform at a high level the next day.
Is Breakfast Important?
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We have all heard this saying before but I still see athletes who don’t eat breakfast before competing. These athletes are setting themselves up for disaster as they are waking up in a fasted state. This is a formula for disaster because your blood glucose levels are low which lead to low performance and ability to concentrate. Evensomething as small as a piece of fruit and some yogurt will help maintain your performance. I get the excuse that I didn’t have time….well failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Pack a simple snack for breakfast such as a breakfast bar or a banana and some peanut butter. A sports drink like powerade or gatorade will also be helpful. Again, the meal doesn’t have to be large before playing because it can cause some stomach distress if you eat too much before exercise but it is imperative to fuel your body after being in a fasted state for 8-10 hours.
How to Prep in between games
Now you have completed your first game and you have a game in an hour, what now? It is important to replenish what you lost during that time. One of my favorite “snacks” during this time is chocolate milk. Chocolate milk has the optimal mixture of protein and carbohydrate to help with recovery. Chocolate milk has been shown to be more effective in recovery than sports drinks like gatorade or powerade because of the its protein content. Again, as stated earlier, protein helps in rebuilding muscle tissue and help them recover back to their pre-exercise state quicker. Milk also contains some water as well as sodium and calcium which will help in rehydration as well as electrolyte replacement. Also a bar and a sports drink would be helpful in your recovery if you do not have chocolate milk. At some point during the day, lunchtime will sneak up on you. Stay away from greasy, high fat foods as they can cause stomach distress. A safe bet for many athletes would be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a sub sandwich with pretzels or a piece of fruit.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
I would be re-missed if I did not touch on hydration tips. When an athlete has lost more than 2% of their body weight due to fluid loss, the athlete will see a drop in their performance. To regain that weight, it is recommended to drink between 16-24 ounces of water or sports drink to replace the fluids. I often get the question which is better, water or sports drinks. It is a mixture of bother personally. The sports drinks are going to help replace the electrolytes lost during exercise and due to the flavor encourage some athletes to drink more. I have also had athletes that report it is too sweet at times and prefer water. For these athletes a 50/50 mix may encourage more fluid replacement.
Especially for the young guys playing this weekend trying to find that scholarship from a 4-year school, performance is important. During the days where multiple games are played, it is imperative to fuel your body properly to perform at your highest level. You may be busy, but as I said earlier, failing to prepare is preparing to fail!