nutrition for sports games

Eating and drinking before a game

Carbohydrates are our body’s main fuel source and requirements are specific to an individual’s body mass, metabolism and energy expenditure. Fuelling the body with the right type/amount of carbs before exercise is crucial for maintaining energy levels and optimising performance.

When considering what to eat before a game:

  • Choose foods that are rich in carbohydrates
  • Choose foods that are easy to digest (avoid high fibrous foods eg. salads and veggies)
  • Choose foods low in fat (high fat foods can upset your stomach)
  • Don’t introduce new foods before an important game (stick to familiar foods that you now are well tolerated)
  • Make sure you are well hydrated beforehand (aim for 35-45ml/kg/day)
  • Develop your favourite ‘pre-game meal’ which should make you feel settled and boost your confidence
  • Consider the timing of the meal – It is often recommended to have a larger meal 2hrs before a game (including low GI complex carbohydrates) then a smaller snack 30-60mins before a game (containing high GI simple carbohydrates)



2 hours before the game Spaghetti bolognaise with 1.5 cups cooked pasta 65g carbs
1 hour before the game 1x large banana + 600ml Sports drink 55g carbs
15mins before the game Handful jelly beans 25g carbs


Eating and drinking during a game

For exercise that is <60mins, it is not recommended to have a large snack/meal to refuel the body during the game. The most important thing to focus on is replacing sweat losses which can cause a fluid deficit and impact of performance. Sweat losses will vary greatly between athletes, so it is important to develop take an individualised fluid plan. A good goal is to aim for 100-200mls every 20mins.

Plain water should be sufficient for high intensity games lasting <60mins, however, some athletes may prefer to have flavoured sports drinks which are easy to consume and contain added electrolytes and sugar.

Eating and drinking after the game

Refueling the body after the game is a key priority to preventing breakdown of lean muscle mass and replenishing depleted glycogen stores. Try to eat a carbohydrate/protein rich meal or snack within 30mins of finishing and then aim for a larger meal within 2hrs post game.



Within 30mins post game 1x large banana and 300ml milk 40g carbs
Within 2hrs post game Wholemeal sandwich with ham, cheese and salad

1x piece fruit and tub of high protein yoghurt

70g carbs



Accredited Practicing Dietitian – Kristen Adams

PPN dietitians @ Peninsula Sports Medicine Langwarrin 83-85 Cranbourne-Frankston Road Langwarrin

Ph. 9789 1233