Donald Christie Jr. MD, CSCS. Oct 30, 2006 © 2006 , Lewiston Maine, USA. Sports Physician and Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
Eat a good “training meal” 3½ - 4 hours before practice session or match. If your first activity is late in the morning, the “training meal” will be a good breakfast. (See “Hints and Suggestions” for comments about what constitutes a “good” breakfast.)
Have a snack of some protein, mostly carbs, and some “good” fats (for example, 8-10 oz. of milk, one-half PB sandwich, and an apple) 1½ hr. before game. Drink a sports drink (commercial or homemade version, recipe below) up to warm-up, then during breaks. (Aim for drinking a total of 1 pint – 16 oz. – over the hour before playing, then 8-10 oz. during breaks.) This intake of sports drink, while making for more “pit stops,” provides on-line, real-time energy and helps maintain hydration, especially important when a match goes on and on.
“Immediately” after playing – while you’re cooling down and changing in the locker room – have a snack (for example, a 100% whole wheat bread or bagel plus PB&J, milk, fruit), followed by a meal appropriate to the time of day. Plan to “refuel” with either a meal or snack every 2½ - 3 hours while awake, breakfast to bedtime.
If you will be playing again that day…
Eat another snack (or small meal, depending on the time) no closer than 1½ - 2 hours beforehand, and drink a sports drink before playing, as well as during breaks, as noted above.
“Immediately” after the match, have a snack, then a late supper once “home” or even on the way home. (Think: Wendy’s chicken salad, chili, and Thick ‘n Frosty or comparable “healthy” selections with good protein, good carbs, and low bad fats at McD’s, Subway, or BK.) Have milk (preferably skimmed milk, or 1% milk, to minimize butterfat intake), water, or juice to rehydrate after playing.
Hints and Suggestions
Plan Ahead: Always “Rule #1,” it saves on heartbreak, if not heartburn, later on.
Sports Drink (e.g., Gatorade): You will need 3-4 quarts over a 2-day period of practice and competition. Buy 2, 2-quart bottles, or 1, 1-gallon container of commercial brand drink and decant as needed into your 20 oz. “water” bottles. If you wish, make up your own sports drink: real OJ mixed 1-to-1 with water, plus a pinch of salt added per 8 oz. of drink. (That’s about 1 level teaspoonful of table salt per quart of solution.)
Snacks: In addition to the 100% whole grain bread and bagel items mentioned above, take 3-4 containers (6 oz., usually) of fruit yogurt (Dannon, Breyer’s, etc.) to eat with the bread and bagged veggies, for a nice snack. It’s all right to take a few “food bars” along (Balance, Clif, Snicker’s Marathon, Nitro-Tech) occasionally to use in place of the milk/half-sandwich/fruit combination. Don’t forget easy-to-carry-and-consume fruit like apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas.
“Equipment”: In addition to your water bottle/Rubbermaid-style drink containers, bring along a small Coleman-style ice chest with frozen gel pack, to store all of the various drinks and snacks that need to be kept cold. Your beverage or snack (such as yogurt and fruit) will be cooled and ready when you need it. Bring along utensils plus some napkins or paper towels, to make it easy and less messy to handle all these different items. Put prepared snacks such as carrot sticks, celery, green and red pepper slices, in zipper bags, “on ice” in that cooler. (Those dining on the school food plan will have to be inventive and creative.)
“Good” Breakfasts: This means making sure you get adequate protein, along with the carbs that make up most breakfasts. Start with pancakes/waffles/French toast with maple syrup, molasses, or honey, or double portions of dry cereal or oatmeal, plus 100% whole wheat toast or bagels with PB (for example, Smucker’s or Teddie’s – just peanuts and salt, no “bad” fats or sugar added as with Jif, Skippy, and Peter Pan, although you can tolerate the sugar calories, all right!) and good quality jam (example: Bonne Maman or Smucker’s). Have some juice or fruit with breakfast.
To these high-carb but relatively low-protein items (lots of complex, “slow-release” carbs in the whole grains, to “stick to your ribs”; PB adds some protein and “good” fats), add lots of low-fat/non-fat milk. Eggs add great protein (but to cut down on the dose of cholesterol, make up scrambles or omelets using, say, whites of 4 eggs and the yolk of just one of those eggs). Baked beans and cottage cheese (Cabot and Hood produce a non-fat cottage cheese) are hearty breakfast or snack protein sources.
Some higher-protein cereals include: “Total Protein” version of “Total,” Shredded Wheat ‘n Bran (spoon size), and Uncle Sam (lots of flax seed in this one!). Make oatmeal (a great source of complex carbs) higher in protein by cooking with skimmed milk, not water, then topping with plain, non-fat yogurt or milk. (Your homemade smoothie of blenderized plain yogurt, frozen fruit, and skimmed milk – even non-fat cottage cheese – makes for a great snack anytime of day or night.)
N.B. If you have a food intolerance or cholesterol problem, talk with a knowledgeable physician or nutritionist about alternative food choices.
[ You can reach Don Christie MD by email at dchristie
@adelphia.net. He is based in Lewiston Maine]