Feeding Your Weekend Warrior

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In the thick of March Madness, college basketball players are playing multiple games a week. How do they maintain their energy? They need to fuel properly and stay hydrated. Kelsea Gusk takes a look at what kids can eat in order to prepare for their own tournaments.

It’s 7am on Saturday morning, and already you and your star athlete are at the gym for game one of five this weekend. An hour or more away from home, the easy and popular option is to grab some coffee at the nearest chain for you, a baked sweet for them and hope the school gym has a cafeteria for lunch. Anyone for hot dogs? Instead of this travel nutrition rut, follow these top 5 tips for proper nutrition during the next tournament.

1. Make breakfast the biggest meal of the day. You don’t know if the last game will be at 1pm or 6pm, so you need to put good fuel in your tank now. Try oatmeal, yogurt, eggs with veggies or a high fiber cereal and milk to top off your tank before the games begin.  

2. Avoid foods high in fat or fiber right before the next race or game. Stick to easily digested carbohydrates and protein. Athletes don’t need high fiber foods prior to competition, they can cause an upset stomach. Fat can do the same thing. No one needs an extra bathroom break in the first period.  

3. Tournament time is not the time to share a new cookie (or cupcake) recipe. Save the super sweet foods for holidays and plan carbohydrates that are whole grain and low in refined sugars. Refined sugars might give the team hyper-energy, but it will not last. The second half of the game will find you and them crashing with a lower blood sugar level than before the snack.  

4. Don’t forget to hydrate, as a spectator or as an athlete. Staying hydrated will keep you focused through the second match as well decrease your desire for an extra snack. Aim for about 8-16 oz every thirty minutes during a long day of competition. Athletes who forgo the water might stop performing as well as the day goes on.   5. Stop eating an hour before your next game or match to make sure your food is digested to avoid any possible cramping. If possible, try out pre- game snacks before the big end of the season tournament to make sure they will settle correctly.

Looking for portable food options to pack from home to avoid the “what’s for lunch rush”? Here are some good options to bring for the next weekend tournament. The key to a perfect snack is that it has both protein and carbohydrates and is about 300 calories. - Whole wheat English muffins with peanut butter - Yogurt and hand fruit - Hummus and cut up vegetables - Crackers and cheese - Trail mix - Beef or Bean burritos - Deli meat wrap   What’s your staple go-to mid tournament fuel?

 

 

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