3 Steps to World Cup-Worthy Pregame Nutrition
After all the hard work in practice, the last thing you want is to go into your game ready to work but underfueled. Not only will you waste all of that preparation, but you’ll struggle through knowing you aren’t your best. Support your performance with the World Cup-worthy nutrition tips below from Danielle LaFata, director of performance nutrition for pro/elite sports at EXOS.
Step 1: Eat your large pregame meal.
A good three-to-four hours before the beginning of the game, eat your big pregame meal. This gives you enough time to digest your food, plus it provides your body with the nutrients needed to restore muscle glycogen and maintain muscle strength. Just like all your other daily meals, you’ll want a balance of carbs, protein, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, and plenty of water to wash it down. Your age, height, weight, and time in the game greatly impact your needs, but the general recommendations are:
- Four servings of whole-grain carbohydrates
- Two servings of lean protein
- Two to three servings of vegetables
- One to two servings of fruit
- Two to three servings of healthy fat
Step 2: Add extra fuel
An hour or so before the game, top off your fuel stores with a smaller meal. While it’s tempting to eat light, you need the extra fuel to make it to halftime. Build a meal with one to two servings of carbohydrates, a half or one serving of protein, and a serving of healthy fat. This can be in the form of a peanut butter and jelly (or banana) sandwich or a turkey or ham sandwich. Keep it simple. If your pregame snack leaves you feeling off, start training your body during practices. Make one small change at a time (e.g. rehydration with electrolyte packet or your snack an hour or two before). Over time, your body will adjust.
This is also the time to rehydrate. Opt for a 16- to 20-ounce sports drink with an electrolyte packet. Your goal here is to get 200-300 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces of fluid and 100-200 milligrams of potassium per 8 ounces of fluid.
Step 3: Top it off.
About 10-15 minutes before kickoff, top off your fuel stores with 15-25 grams of carbohydrates. Choose an 8-ounce sports drink, a shooter, or a chew.