Pre-Game Nutrition for Field Hockey
Have you ever felt sluggish during a game, like something was weighing you down? Well, you may have eaten the wrong food before the game. Sometimes it's easy to forget to eat healthy foods when you're actively playing a sport because you don’t immediately realize that your body needs a lot more nutrients and vitamins than normal.
This guide will give you tips and suggestions on what to eat the night before and day of a field hockey game to help boost your performance on the field. Even if you don’t eat healthily every day, using the tips below will ensure that you know what to eat on game day to get that extra boost when you need it.
The Night Before
Eat a big, well-balanced meal the night before a big game. The best meal to eat is one that is high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, with a moderate amount of protein.
A meal that is high in complex carbohydrates will break down slowly in your body, providing your body with a steady stream of sugars in the blood stream. You will be able to tap into this stored energy supply during the game when your body needs it the most. And don't worry, you will have plenty of time to digest the meal.
For a complete meal, pair these complex carbohydrates with some lean meat the night before a game:
- Brown rice
- Multi-grain bread
Your game-day meal(s) may vary depending on the time of the event. Regardless, each meal should consist of easily digestible foods and the last meal you eat prior to game time should be eaten at least three hours in advance. Limit your protein intake and eliminate your fat intake on game day. Also, make sure to include both simple and complex carbohydrates in every meal.
Hot Tip: Drink Water
When you are physically active, you want to be drinking more water than normal — roughly ten cups per day or more, depending on how strenuous your workout is. Before game day, you actually want to start hydrating the night before — drink a little more water than normal, but not excessively.
Start your game day off with a few cups of water, and continue hydrating throughout the day. Don’t let thirst be the indicator that your body needs water, or you may already be dehydrated. During your warm-up and throughout the game, take regular sips to maintain your hydration level.
Simple carbohydrates will give you quick boosts of energy if eaten slightly before your warm-up or during the game — that's why the “team moms” often bring orange slices for the half-time snack. Complex carbohydrates, as mentioned above, will keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the game. The foods listed below are a few options to include in your game-day meal:
- Bread: Easily accessible carbohydrates give you a quick energy boost.
- Fruit: Bananas and berries help replenish the nutrients lost during exercise and give you extra antioxidant boosts.
Avoid foods high in fat or processed sugars. Fats take a long time to digest and will slow you down during the game. Drinks and food that are high in processed sugars will only give you instant boosts of energy (not long-lasting), and they will not nourish your body. Examples of foods to exclude from you game-day meal(s) are soda, juices (high in sugar), cake, candy, donuts, fries, and burgers.
Also avoid foods high in fiber. Although fiber is important to aid in your digestion, you don't want to get stuck having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the game! Some foods to avoid on game day are beans, bran, nuts, and excessive amounts of fruit and vegetables.
Change to a Healthy Diet
Now that you’ve been introduced to a simple overview of what you should and should not eat during your pre-game preparation, you can incorporate healthy choices into your diet.
Eating proper meals before a game can give you the performance edge you need, and maintaining a healthy diet will help make you a better, healthier athlete overall. Educating yourself on nutrition is the first step to becoming a great athlete. When you play a sport, you burn a tremendous amount of calories, so you might think you don’t need be conscious of what you eat. But, eating nutrient-rich foods will help you build muscles faster, nourish your body, and give you the performance edge you need!
Check out iSport’s guide, Nutrition for Field Hockey, for more information on healthy playing.