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   Your nutrition habits before practice are just as vital as they are before a game.     Eating well before practice is just as...

   Your nutrition habits before practice are just as vital as they are before a game. 

   Eating well before practice is just as important as eating well before competition. If you are well fueled, you’ll be better able to train hard, which means that you’ll have an edge over the competition. Many athletes show up to practice without appropriate fuel on board, which results in muscle fatigue, inability to focus, lack of energy and difficulty working at higher intensities.  

   Fueling properly before practice can provide these benefits:

   >> Increased energy

   >> Improved mental focus

   >> Greater endurance and strength

   >> Hunger prevention

   >> Improved mood and attitude

   >> Decreased risk of injury

   One key component is to eat carbohydrates before you train. Carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source and preferred fuel, especially for working at higher intensities. Protein and fat are also important, but since they take longer for your body to digest, make sure to allow time for that. Depending on your schedule, you may choose to eat four hours before practice, one hour before, or somewhere in between. The closer you get to your practice time, the less food you want to eat. This way, food isn’t sitting in your stomach weighing you down as you’re training. 

   Every athlete’s body is unique, and each athlete has individual goals and challenges. Customize these suggestions and portion sizes so that you’re not hungry during practice, but you’re also not too full with food jostling around in your stomach while training.

   On competition day, stick with the foods, portions and meal timing that you’re familiar with. Once you’ve found something that works for you on training days, implement that for days you compete. Avoid trying new foods on these days since you don’t know how your body will react. You don’t want to risk being sidelined for stomach distress.

   Eat well, play hard and have fun!

   WHEN TO EAT WHAT: Hours Before Activity Calories Examples

1 100-200 Banana or granola bar or smoothie

2 200-400 Yogurt & graham crackers

3 400-600 Tuna sandwich & pretzels

4 600-800 Chicken with pasta & veggies

Jill Daniels, MS, RD, CSSD is a Registered Dietitian in the Bay Area of Northern California who specializes in sports nutrition and weight management. She works with people of all ages. Visit her on the web at






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