The training period offers you an excellent opportunity to establish sound eating practices that will benefit you on the playing field as well as give you a measure of well-being throughout life.
Make Snacks Count
Chose snacks that contain more than just calories. When you eat out with friends, choose something nutritionally sound, like a cheeseburger with a slice of tomato and lettuce leaf. How many food groups are present in this sandwich? What might you eat along with this sandwich to make an even better snack?
Look for Extra Food Energy
Teenage athletes burn up more calories than non-athletic teens. You can fill this requirement by eating more food from all food groups. Carbohydrates are the most efficient fuel for your body during strenuous exercise. Get most of your extra energy from foods like starchy vegetables and whole grain or enriched bread, cereal, rice, or pasta instead of from fatty foods. For example, on an athlete’s plate, a baked potato should get the nod over French fries.
Breakfast is especially important because you need food to start the day. Your body begins the day in a low-energy, fasted condition. Teens who eat breakfast score higher on physical fitness tests. Breakfasts can be made up of any combination of nutritious foods that you enjoy eating. Spaghetti and meatballs, together with an orange and a glass of milk, is a nutritionally sound meal for any time of the day-even breakfast!
Check Your Diet Frequently
Spot-check your daily diet at least once a week. Are you eating at least the minimum number of servings from each food group each day? How can you use the food guide pyramid as a tool to make improvements?
What you eat every day can have a big effect on how you perform. What you eat right before an event can be critical. Wrong choices can be disastrous. Right choices can give you that competitive edge. The Pregame Meal Planner will help you make wise food choices.
While the pregame meal can supply your body with significant amounts of energy, don’t expect it to supply all the energy you 11 need for the event. You should eat the right kinds of food 1or several days before the event to charge up your muscles with glycogen. Glycogen is a key energy source your muscles use during most sports activities. Although the pregame meal won’t cause large Ureases in muscle glycogen, it will:
- Help avoid hunger during the event
- Stablize blood-sugar levels and add some food energy to complement existing energy stores of muscle glycogen
- Hydrate the body (supply water to the body’s cells)
- Provide a relatively empty stomach at game time
- Prevent gastrointestinal upset or other adverse reactions to food
No one pregame meal is right for every athlete or every event, but some food choices are much smarter than others. General guidelines for individual food selection and meal planning are on the following page. Make sure your pregame meal plans follow these guidelines.
Make sure your pregame meal plans follow these guidelines
- Allow enough time for digestion. Eat the meal at least three hours before an event.
- Choose a meal that’s high in starch. Starch is easy to digest and helps steady the levels of blood sugar.
- Consume only moderate amounts of protein. Protein foods take longer to digest than starch. And high- protein meals may lead to increased urine production, which can add to dehydration.
- Limit fats and oils. They take too long to digest.
- Restrict sugary foods. Sweets can cause rapid energy swings in blood sugar levels and result in low blood sugar and less energy.
- Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the body to increase urine output, which can contribute to dehydration problems, and a full bladder can be very uncomfortable.
- Watch out for foods that produce gas. Certain raw vegetables, fruits, or beans may cause problems for some young athletes. Be aware of the foods that cause you problems, and avoid them just before an event.
- Within these guidelines, chose foods you like to eat.
- Remember to drink plenty of fluids with your pregame meal.
Here are some nutritious pregame meal plans that fit the pregame guidelines. At least three of the five major groups are represented in each meal. These meals are only suggestions. You can probably think up many more tha you would like to eat.
Foods to choose
Macaroni, spaghetti, noodles, ravioli (plain or with sauce) Meats, cheese, and oil add fat to the sauce. Use them sparingly.
Rice Use a sauce low in fat and only as spicy as you can tolerate easily. Or try rice with a little soy sauce flavoring. Potatoes
Baked, boiled, and mashed, but not French fries -limit butter, gravy, or sour cream.
Peas, carrots, winter squash, sweet potatos – Cooked vegetables are more easily digested.
Rolls, muffins, crackers, quick breads, bagels -Use nutritious, low-fat bread products and spreads.
Oatmeal, other hot cereals, cold cereals – Avoid cereals with high sugar content.
Noodle, rice, vegetable, clear broth, bouillon, or consommé Choose low-fat soups. Eating large portions of chili split pea, or bean soups may lead to digestive problems some athletes.
Pancakes – Limit butter and syrup.
Fruits, fruit juices – Use any juice or cooked fruit except prune. Oranges, bananas, and peeled apples are easily digested raw fruits. You may wish to dilute juices, especially in hot weather. Try hot cider or juice during cold weather.