Eating for Sporting Events

Planning food for an all-day sporting event can be challenging. With the summer season around the corner there are many competitive sports that make nutrition a huge factor.

Majority of teams play multiple games during a day (back-to-back at times), it’s essentially impossible to perform well in every game if you are not taking in food and fuel.  Whether it’s you participating in a softball summer league or your kids involved in soccer tournaments, it’s essential for everyone in the family to keep nutrition in mind for optimal enjoyment and performance.

A good rule of thumb is to eat 2 hours before exercising, allowing your body enough time to digest all the essential nutrients.  It can be difficult to know what and when to eat so here are some tips to help you fuel your body adequately.


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Try to balance your meals with a protein and a high complex carbohydrate that will keep the body’s endurance lasting longer.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Toast or a bagel with peanut butter, and a piece of fruit
  • Two eggs, toast and 1 fruit
    • High protein smoothie

Snacking all day

When it comes to snacking, try to fuel your body with real food over processed foods.

Many sports bars & drinks are processed with loads of preservatives, sweeteners and additives.  Snacks should be around 200 calories. It’s important to stop snacking half an hour before competing.

Snacks should be balanced between carbohydrates and protein, and low in fats to keep the body nourished for a longer time.  If you are the type of person that can’t handle large quantities of food before a tournament then fat-burning or high glycemic index carbs (nuts, pretzels, breads, dried fruit) are the way to go. They digest much faster than slow-burning carbs and easier to tolerate.

Focusing on getting enough calories from high quality foods is the key. Aim to get

carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein in every snack to provide sustained energy.

Snack ideas:

  • Banana or apples w/ almond or peanut butter
  • Granola w/ nuts & seeds
  • Cheese with fruit
  • Yogurt w/ fruit
  • Nut butter w/ crackers or bagel
  • Veggies & dip
  • Cereal w/ nuts
  • Kind bar
  • Snap peas
  • Dried fruits


It’s important to keep the body hydrated, especially during hot summer days.  Electrolyte enhanced drinks such as Nuun tablets that offer sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium with no added sugars are better options than many other sports drinks.

Recovery eating

After a long day of competition, it’s important to eat a balanced meal. Meals should be balanced between carbohydrates, protein and fat.  Ideally it is best to have a carbohydrate-to protein ratio of 4:1.  It basically means that for every ounce of protein there should be 4 ounces of carbs.  It’s optimal to eat a recovery meal within one hour of competition.

Dinner or Post recovery meal choices:

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce, veggies, dinner roll and a piece of fruit
  • Grilled chicken with potato, rice, side salad & a piece of fruit
  • Salmon with roasted potatoes, rice medley, asparagus and salad rich in nuts & seeds

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