Preparation is everything – Before you play.

Before you play sport it is advisable to eat a meal or snack containing some carbohydrate – the most important source of energy for the body during intense physical activity. Carbohydrate can be found in a variety of different foods including breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice etc. Beans (baked, red kidney etc.), peas and lentils, fresh and dried fruit as well as milk and yogurt also provide carbohydrate.

You need to allow enough time for your body to digest food before playing sport, otherwise you may feel uncomfortable. Allow approximately 2-3 hours if you are eating a meal and 30-60 minutes for a snack before playing sport.

Suitable meals to be eaten 2-3 hours before sport should have more carbohydrates with small amounts of protein and only a little fat.

Examples include:

  • Pasta with tomato based sauce or other low fat sauce
  • Boiled rice or noodles with low fat sauce
  • Cereal and milk/yogurt
  • Toast/muffins/crumpets with honey, jam or marmalade
  • Sandwiches with salad and lean meat, chicken or fish
  • Jacket potato with low fat topping

Snacks that could be eaten 30-60 minutes before playing sport include:

  • Milkshake/smoothie/yogurt
  • Fresh or dried fruit, bananas are an especially good source of carbohydrates
  • Cereal bars
  • Rice cakes
  • Fruit loaf/malt loaf

Power Play Fact:
We do have stores of carbohydrate called glycogen in our muscles and liver but these stores are quite small and so eating carbohydrate regularly is needed to keep these stores topped up during periods of activity. As well as providing energy for the muscles, carbohydrate also provides energy for the brain.