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Athlete Nutrition and Carbs: What to Eat

One of the most important elements that goes into an athlete’s performance involves how they fuel their body with food. Get these tips on eating carbs and the benefits before your game or event.

Eating enough protein and carbohydrates the night before a practice or game is a good way to ensure that your body will have enough energy to get you through to the end successfully.

athlete nutrition and carbs

athlete nutrition and carbs

So why are carbohydrates so important for athletic achievement? 

Carbs are your body’s main source of energy. Although fruits and vegetables are also extremely beneficial to providing an athlete’s body with important nutrients and vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins maximize your supply of glycogen in your muscles. Glycogen is stored in your muscles which is later released when you’re doing physical activity. Eating foods that are high in carbs before a big workout or game can provide your body with enough power to help you do your best. 

Here are a few great options for before a competition:

Athlete nutrition and carbs:

Examples of carbohydrates that fuel your body are pasta, rice, regular or sweet potatoes and bread. This food group should take up almost 60% of your dinner plate. 


A good source of protein includes any meat like chicken, turkey or lean beef. For athletes who prefer not to eat meat, other ways you can incorporate macronutrients into your meals could include fish, tofu, or other plant-based options.

Breakfast foods:

What you eat on the morning of your event has an impact on how you will perform that day. Some great foods to eat for breakfast include a bagel with peanut butter, fruit, eggs, toast, or a nutrient rich smoothie. This will give you the boost you need to start your day energized. 

Pre-game Snacks:

I think I speak for all parents when it comes to having a snack available for your child either before or after the game. It’s always important to eat a healthy snack an hour or two before practice or a game to give you power so athletes can be at their peak performance. Keep their energy high and their bellies full. Some options for pre-game snacks can include granola/protein bars, peanut butter and celery sticks, carrots and hummus, or apple sauce packets. 

With all of this in mind, make sure to always stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes up especially if it’s a hot day!

The importance of having a good pre-competition dinner can not only affect player performance, it can also be a great time for team bonding. Speaking from personal experience. One of the favorite memories before big track meets or field hockey games were team dinners. When you’re able to get your teammates together before a big day, all athletes can be filled with the power they need to play their best the next day. Being around each other also can decrease the level of stress for each player which can improve player performance as well. Finally, the number one most important reminder to all young athletes is that FOOD=FUEL and keeping a healthy, balanced diet will continue to improve your performance on and off the field.

About author Sara Puskar

I am currently a Division I Track and Field athlete at Binghamton University in New York. I’m working towards a BA in Political Science (Concentrating in International Affairs). And a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I enjoy creating content for Tik Tok and social media through my internship with our Public Relations Department at college. iSport360 is helping me learn more about social media and marketing while allowing me to create blog posts that surround educating athletes and my personal experiences from youth sport participation, success, and performance. 

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June 21, 2022

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