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Obesity and Weight Management

My girls` high school softball team

03/08/2008

Question:

I am trying to get my girls-ages 14-18 a good nutritional diet while getting in shape for our upcoming season.We need to know what to eat pregame during the day so we don`t run out of steam during the game or at conditioning practices

Answer:

Great question for this age group of athletes! The biggest mistake athletes typically make is to not eat well throughout the day in preparation for practice or games.

Basically, breakfast should be substantial with at least 2-3 servings of grains, an ounce equivalent of protein and a serving of milk. Morning is also a great time to get a fruit in! Breakfast is not just a slice of toast or pop tart! If the athletes have access to a mid-morning snack, have a good carbohydrate snack ( a grain or fruit) with a little protein/fat. For lunch, have an entrée that has 2-3 grains, a few ounces of protein (maybe 2) and some fruit, veggies. This is fueling the muscle with carbohydrate in preparation for practice/game in the middle of the afternoon.

Pre-game snack should be about equivalent to one-two portions of grain or fruit. The best way to help your muscle be ready for the next day’s practice or game is to include good recovery nutrition. If the athlete will not be eating dinner within 45 minutes to an hour after exercise, then an appropriate recovery snack would be 40-60 grams of carbohydrate with 15-20 grams of good quality protein to help that muscle recover. This is especially important if your athletes do not have 24 hours to recover such as might be the case with tournament play.

I believe eating well early in the day and spreading the nutrition out over the course of the day is important to fueling the muscle and performance. Dinner and an evening snack are important to finish this day as well!

My estimates above are for the typical high school female playing only one sport. If any of your athletes are really small or larger than average, those estimates might need some tweeking for her customized needs. In addition, if these athletes are more physically active than my impression of a two hour practice daily, those needs may benefit from some adjustment. You can learn more about what I mean for serving sizes and portion sizes at ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Have a great season!

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Response by:

Jackie  Buell, PhD, RD/LD, ATC, LAT Jackie Buell, PhD, RD/LD, ATC, LAT
Director of Sports Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University