Health & Nutrition

A Fueling Strategy for Game Day

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

Jacqueline R. Berning, PhD, RD, CSSD, chairs the Health Science Department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She offers tips for nutrition on Game Day.


What to Eat Before the Game

  • Hours Before Game Time

Try pre-game meals like:

  • Turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with low-fat cheese, yogurt, fruit or granola bar
  • Pasta with 3-4 ounces of meat sauce, bread sticks, low-fat milk
  • Steamed rice with vegetables with 3 ounces of chicken and a piece of fruit
  • French toast or a small stack of pancakes with limited syrup, 1 egg, low-fat milk and a piece of fruit

2 Hours Before Game Time

  • Small bowl of a whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk
  • Whole-grain toast or a small low-fat muffin
  • 1/2 whole-grain bagel, low-fat yogurt and fruit
  • Fruit smoothie made with low-fat yogurt or milk

1 Hour or Less Before Game Time

  • Liquids that contain 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates from a sports drink or gel

What to Eat After the Game

Berning recommends that players refuel before even leaving the field after a game. That could include a mixture of carbs and protein, which is available in most recovery drinks.

Then, a player should eat a full meal within two hours of the game’s conclusion to resynthesize the muscle protein.

The post-game meal is a meal that focuses on healthy portions of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and whole grains, and the fat that is found in the meal is a healthier fat such as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids.