The question of what to eat pre-game is a really important one. Get it wrong and you can create all sorts of problems for yourself; sluggish early in the game, a sick belly at quarter time, or just flat in the fourth quarter when you need to be at your best. Get it right and you feel great, play hard and make great decisions down the stretch.
Step 1 : Choose a meal your stomach likes
The one universal law of pre-sport meals is that the meal has to be agreeable to your stomach. The best meal in the world with the ultimate blend of macro and micro nutrients does you no good if your digestive system doesn't like it and you end up, with unhappy guts. For example my tastebuds love pasta, but my stomach isn't keen on the whole wheat/gluten thing, this means that for me, basmati rice and grilled chicken makes the best pre-sport meal. Working out what works for you and what doesn't can take a bit of trial and error, but it is well worth the effort as nutrition really doesn't exist without good digestion.
Step 2: Choose a real meal
A real meal is a proper grown up meal, not an Up & Go, not a jam sandwich, not a Mars Bar and a Big M. A real meal combines a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates and a decent amount of protein, without too much fat to weigh you down and slow your gastric emptying.
Examples of the real meals our Melbourne Boomers WNBL players love are: Britt Smart: grilled chicken breast with sweet potato and a salad with avocado, and a handful of almonds
Alice Kunek: Protein Pancakes with yogurt (recipe below)
Step 3: Work out your timing
Once you've got your meal selection sorted, it's critical to figure out what timing works for you. This is generally somewhere between 2 - 4 hours before tip off, depending on how fast your metabolism is, and how nervous you get pre game. Those with a super fast metabolism are generally better off eating closer to game time so they still have plenty in the tank later on. On the other hand, people who tend to get a nervous stomach pre game are far better off eating slightly earlier so the meal is well and truly digested by the time the nerves kick in.
Step 4: Prepare early
As important as your pre-game meal is, the reality is that the 48 hours of eating prior to the game also have a massive impact on your performance, as this is when our stocks of glycogen (the fuel in our muscles and liver that powers anaerobic exercise) are replenished. Get this right and your pre-game meal tops off the tank, get it wrong and it merely takes you to a third full.
So there you have it, a simple recipe for success. Plenty of good food at the right time.
Below is Alice's recipe for protein pancakes.
Alice's Kunek's Protein Pancakes
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
1/4 cup of quinoa flakes
1 tablespoon of flaxseeds
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
Put all these ingredients in the food processor then blend in:
2 egg whites
1 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of cottage cheese.
Makes about 8-10 pancakes, top with natural yogurt, berries, and banana.