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Pre-game Nutrition for High School Football Player

My son is 16 almost 17 and plays high school football. On the day he has a football game he will not eat prior to the game. He has always been this way. I need advice on what he can do to fuel his body prior to game time.


Thanks for your question. In terms of pre game nutrition the three most important factors are ensuring he consumes adequate carbohydrates, liquids and electrolytes so he can perform to his best during the game. It is not necessarily required that he eats that much prior to the game. I would recommend eating a meal with both simple and complex carbohydrates for breakfast, oatmeal with raisins is a good example. Complex carbohydrates are a provide a slow release of energy whilst simple carbohydrates give instant energy. Pasta, bread, rice, fruit are all good sources of carbs, generally brown pasta, rice, bread still contain fiber which means they provide a slow release of energy, white rice, bread and pasta does not contain any fiber which means they are broken down much quicker and therefore release energy more rapidly. It is also important to avoid consuming any fat in a pre match meal, as fat can slow the digestion rate down, and you want to make sure the body is not buddy trying to break down a meal whilst in the middle of a football game. A meal with such as skinless chicken breast with a couple of cups of rice and some vegetables would be a healthy and relatively easy on the stomach meal. In terms of liquids aim to consume 1 to 1.5 litres of water throughout the morning before the game. This should be spread over the proceeding hours not in one go, and ideally most if it before the final two hours before the game. He can just sip a little water when he feels like it in the last two hours. Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates and also electrolytes, and are easy to digest. Ideally you would eat the breakfast upon wakening, the next meal 4 hours before the game, and then a small snack such as a banana, some rice cakes or some bread and honey about 2 hours before the game. Continue to sip water up until the start of the game. There are also a variety of sports drinks, I am not a fan of some of them due to the large amounts of additives and chemicals in them. Whilst they make help in sport, they are not great from a health perspective and really don’t offer anything that cant be achieved with real food. If your son is really averse to eating anything at all, then you might want to consider trying to make a smoothie, for example rice milk blended with banana and honey is a great way to get a mix of carbohydrates, liquids and electrolytes in one go. This can be consumed 2-3 hours before the game, just make sure than water is consumed to maintain hydration.

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