New Hampton School has a storied history of successful athletics. Our dedicated student-athletes commit themselves to their sports and their teams, looking for every potential competitive edge. In addition to rigorous training in the gym or on the field of play, they are educated and encouraged to maintain healthy eating habits that will elevate their athletic performance and ability to recover post-workout. Here are a few tips from our licensed Athletic Trainers on eating and sleeping habits that will help athletes find their peak performance when they need it most.
The Night Before
As you prepare for any athletic performance it is important to consider healthy sleep habits the night before the event. Sleeping a consistent 8-10 hours per night is recommended and can help to regulate when your body is at its most optimal level. Eliminating caffeine and screen use before bed can make it easier to slip into sleep and maintaining consistent bed and wake times—yes, even on the weekends—will train your body to peak at appropriate times in the day a.k.a. game time!
T – 4 hours
Within two to four hours of game time you should plan on eating your last full meal. This should include all of the major macronutrient groups—carbohydrates, proteins and fats. While carbs provide energy for active muscles that burn quickly, fats are longer burning and can keep your muscles fueled longer into your performance. An ideal pre-game meal is one that is high in carbs, moderate in protein and low in fats. Note: For training days, this ratio might change depending on how intense the workout is. The more intense, the higher the carbs.
T – 1 hours
A little over an hour before the big game, grab a snack that is rich in carbohydrates. This should be a small snack and it should be consumed with ample time to digest prior to the start of the game. You should avoid fatty foods during this time as fats require more energy to digest—energy you need to score a goal, land a trick or sprint across the finish line.
OK, you’ve warmed up, you are well rested and you have eaten well. As you focus on the game you should maintain healthy hydration levels and consume carbs periodically if you physical excursion will last longer than 1 hour. Again, this is going to provide your muscles with the ongoing energy they need to perform throughout the length of the competition. Coupling carbs with water consumption can also promote optimal fluid absorption.
Congratulations, you won! However, just because the game is over doesn’t mean your body is done working. Recovery is an important part of muscle growth and the real results of any workout happen in the recovery phase. This is when your body reloads depleted carbohydrate fuel stores, repairs and builds new muscle tissue, and rehydrates after exercise. Foods rich in lean protein are ideal during this post-game phase. So, although a celebratory trip through the Mickey D’s drive-thru is well deserved, make sure that your body has the nutrients it needs to build stronger, faster, and more powerful muscles for the next game.
Information is taken from a presentation on Sports Nutrition by New Hampton School Head Athletic Trainer Adam Tyson, ATC, ITAT and Athletic Trainer Precious Burke, MS ATC.