18 Dec Prematch Meal in Sport
FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL
Taking in the right fluid and nutrition is vital to aid performance and reduce fatigue and injuries. There isn’t a magic food which will ensure success. Most of the energy utilised during competition comes from food consumed in the days prior to the event. However the prematch meal is vital for energy stores during long exertion such as a 90 minute football game. The best time to have the prematch meal is around 3 hours before any exercise to allow for clearing of the food from the stomach.
After you have eaten it takes at least 2 hours for food to be digested so exercising earlier than this means that your blood is being shared between being used for digestion and the exercising muscles. The type of food is important so as to be easily absorbed and give vital energy to the working muscles.
The prematch meal needs to be composed largely of carbohydrates which help with replacing energy stores in the liver and muscles. For ease of digestion and clearance from the gastrointestinal tract, the fat and fibre content should be kept low.
Examples of ideal foods for the prematch meal include pasta, grilled chicken, steak, salmon, mashed or sweet potato, peas, carrots, cereals, toast, fresh fruit juices and low fat fresh salads.
At the end of a game the emphasis should be on replacing muscle energy stores quickly so fruit, protein milkshakes and even low fat pizza are suitable.
Dr Zafar Iqbal
MBBS, BSc, DCH, DRCOG, MRCGP, MSc, Dip PCR, FFSEM UK
Head of Sports and Exercise Medicine Crystal Palace FC
The information provided by Dr Zafar Iqbal is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment.