As a sports person I know match days are the most important days of the season. You need energy but you also do not want to be bloated or left feeling very heavy or constipated which might affect your performance. We have said your nutrition highly impacts your performance. The main focus on this day is what to eat and what time to eat. Most times sports people will need to carb load and hydrate days to the match day to store enough glycogen and to avoid dehydration on the actual day. Eat enough carbohydrates a few days to the event to make sure we have enough stores since you cannot eat much on the actual day. Some of the carbs to consume 24 hours- 48 hours’ prior the game include rice, sweet potatoes, arrowroots, pasta and potatoes.

On match day, make sure to eat your main meal 2-4 hours to the game to allow your body digest the food. Avoid foods high in fat, high fiber, processed foods and spices.

Sample meals for pre- game meals include: rice, chicken, stir fry vegetables like carrots plus fresh fruit juices or rice, chickpeas and cabbage. In case the pre-game is a breakfast meal then eggs, toasted bread, chicken strips and tomato is a good choice with a glass of orange juice. The idea is to eat meals that give quick energy and to avoid those that release sugars slowly or any foods that are too heavy on your stomach. It is best to avoid tea because dairy may cause some bloating or stomach discomfort. If the game is too close then snack on something like a sandwich with eggs or chicken breast and fresh fruit juice.

For games longer than 90 minutes then one needs to top up on fluids, energy and electrolytes. Examples of mid event snack include very little sport drinks (not more than 250mls) which will rehydrate and help balance electrolytes and a fruit like a banana with some nuts for some energy boost.

When the whistle is blown then that is time to load on your protein to help in recovery and carbohydrates for energy. After the game it is okay to consume complex carbohydrates and heavier protein as opposed to pre game when we focus on simple carbs and lean protein. Sample post game meal would be beef, potatoes with some vegetables, boost your protein by including yogurt with fruits and nuts after your meal. Hydration should not stop, use water, sport drinks, isotonic drinks and fresh juices to balance your electrolytes.

It is very simple to outline samples of what one can eat but we cannot also have general portions because different sports people have different weights and require different calories, but the following is a summary of today’s article.

3 Samples for match day meals

2-4 hours pre match –Pregame 4 slices toasted bread , 3 eggs, chicken strips, tomato, fresh juice Rice, chicken , steam cabbage Rice, chickpeas , stir fry carrots
Mid event Banana, nuts and sports drink Sandwich with eggs, fruit juice Energy bar, banana
Post event Sweet potato, mbuzi, spinach Ugali , beef steak or fish , kachumbari Chapati, beans and cabbage
Hydration To continue even after the match , use fresh juices, water, isotonic drinks and even yogurt.

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By Eunice Nthenya

MSA Nutrition Expert

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