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1. Make carbohydrates 70 percent of your calories three days before the game. A teen athlete consuming around 3,000 calories daily would need to consume around 500 grams of carbohydrates spaced in several meals throughout the day. Remember the sports axiom: "Saturday's game is played on Thursday's food." Eating a high energy, nutritious diet for several days before the game stores up energy.
2. Prehydrate your body for three days before the game. Drink extra water, approximately three-quarters of an ounce per pound (a 160-pound athlete would drink twelve 10-ounce glasses of water a day.) Since muscle contains so much water, a slight degree of dehydration can greatly diminish muscle performance. Dried-up muscles become weak.
3. Enjoy a performance-boosting pre-game meal. The pre-game meal should be low in fat, since fatty foods take longer to digest and may leave an athlete still feeling full at game time. Ideally, the pre-game meal is eaten three hours prior to the game. The best pre-game meal would be high in complex carbohydrates (about 70 percent of calories), with medium amounts of protein (about 20 percent of calories), and low in fat (around 10 percent of calories). Protein stimulates insulin to help the muscles use glucose more efficiently. Protein also helps to energize the brain. The small amount of fat slows the intestinal absorption of carbohydrates, so that the sugar enters the bloodstream at a steady rate.
For a teen athlete, the pre-game meal should contain about 100 grams of complex carbohydrates. Here are some good foods to include:
4. Eating and drinking just before and during the game. Studies show that taking sugars, such as candy, honey, or sucrose before exercise results in reduced performance. Some research suggests that eating or drinking sweets within an hour of exercise may decrease performance, due to too much of an insulin rush and the roller coaster effect of high and low blood sugar. While the amount of energy already in your body at the start of the game has the most influence on your performance, it's also important to replenish food and fluids during the game. Quick-energy carbohydrates are those with a high glycemic index, carbs that raise blood sugar quickly, such as orange juice, bananas, raisins, and carrots.
5. Rehydrate your body after the game. After vigorous exercise, you need to replenish water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes that were used up during the game. As soon as the game is over, drink at least two full glasses of plain, cool water. Then eat and drink carbohydrate-rich foods. Remember to eat and drink slowly after a game to avoid nausea, heartburn, and cramps that may result from overloading your intestines with too much food and drink too soon. Rehydrating yourself with plain water first will often prevent after-game fatigue, cramps, and abdominal upset.