Game Day Nutrition

What to Eat Before, During, & After a Game

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Game Day Nutrition

What athletes eat can have effects on game day performance. It’s important to eat foods that will fuel the body and provide enough energy during the game. Carb-loading, however, is not a beneficial strategy for everybody. Loading up on carbs has both its pros and its cons for different athletes. With this in mind, we have put together our game day nutrition general list of some foods to consider before, during, and after a game.

Before the game

Carbohydrates provide the primary fuel for exercising muscles. Athletes should focus on eating carbs, which are broken down in the small intestine. Limit intake of fat and protein, which are processed in the stomach and can cause cramping and indigestion with exercise.

Consume (3-6 hours before)
  • Pasta
  • Baked potatoes
  • Lean meat
  • Fresh tacos
  • Cheese in a healthy meal
  • Healthy cereal with milk
(2-3 hours before)
  • 12-16 oz. of water, fruit or vegetable juice
  • Bagel with peanut butter
  • Yogurt
  • Granola bars
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Fresh fruit
  • High fiber foods – broccoli, baked beans, bran cereal
  • High-fat foods – eggs, meat, cheese
  • Sugar, soda, candy
  • New foods

During the game

Hydrate based on length and intensity of the activity. Replace fluids according to thirst and weather.

  • Drink 16-32 oz. per hour for workouts longer than 1 hour
  • Water – for activity shorter than 1 hour
  • Sports drinks – for activity longer than 1 hour
  • Watermelon and orange slices are good for halftime
  • High sugar snacks and drinks – candy, soda, fruit juice
  • Energy drink, caffeine
  • Refined carbs – bread, pasta
  • Sugar and caffeine may upset the stomach leading to lower performance

After the game

Hard exercise depletes the body of carbohydrates, which are essential for speeding recovery. Proteins are necessary to repair and develop muscle tissue. Athletes should begin to build their body’s supply of both these nutrients within the first 30 minutes after exercise

Consume (in between or after events)
  • Drink 16-32 oz. per hour for workouts longer than 1 hour
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Turkey sandwich
  • Protein, power bars
  • Yogurt
  • Hummus and/ or cheese and crackers
  • Nuts
  • String cheese
  • Raw veggies
  • Concession candy
  • High fat, fried foods
  • Energy drinks, soda
  • Large, low protein meals

Injured? Need to find a sports nutritionist to design your game day nutrition plan? Reach out to a physical therapy clinic near you to get a local recommendation and find the help you need!

physical therapy near me

Read our article on carb loading:

Pros and Cons of Carb Loading