Finding the right pre-match meal can be challenging during travel trips and tournaments.
When you are on the road, you don’t have access to the regular pre-match foods you eat at home. You don’t want to risk choosing the wrong option that leaves you feeling sluggish and heavy during your game (or even worse, with GI upset)!
Fueling on the road can be challenging, but I am here to help! As a Sports Nutritionist, I help athletes go from underfueled and confused to confident and powerful on the field.
In this article, I will provide two Sports Nutritionist-approved pre-match meal recommendations and share more information on why Starbucks can be a great choice for athletes!
During athlete travel, I commonly recommend Starbucks for a pre-match meal. Starbucks can be found in nearly every city and are consistent with the food items they prepare. I wanted to give a few options for pre-match meals to try next time you’re playing an away game!
What Should Be Included in the Pre-Match Meal?
When you are on the field, your main fuel source is carbohydrates. Therefore, the pre-match meal should be high in easily accessible energy (carbohydrates) to ensure full energy stores prior to the game.
Choosing easy-to-digest carbohydrates is important to ensure you won’t be too heavy on the field. If you choose the wrong nutrients in your pre-match meal, it may slow down digestion and result in poor performance.
You want your pre-match meal to include the following components
During high-intensity exercise, your primary energy source is carbohydrates. Since you only limited carbohydrate stores in the body, make sure your pre-match meal contains carbohydrates to maximize energy levels.
Including 20-30g of protein in your pre-match meal will help to decrease muscle protein breakdown and turnover. This will keep you powerful on the field and assist with body composition goals.
Incorporating ant-inflammatory fats into your pre-match meal will decrease inflammation and provide long-lasting energy throughout the day.
An important note about fat; too much fat will significantly slow down the rate of digestion, which may cause you to feel sluggish. I recommend having 15g of fat or less in the pre-match meal!
Low Fiber Fruit and Vegetables
You will want to take a similar approach to fruits and vegetables. Your body digests fiber at a slower speed, similar to fat. Fiber takes much longer than carbohydrates to digest. Too much fiber in the pre-match meal will slow down digestion and can cause stomach bloating and cramping.
Pre-Match Meal Ideas from Starbucks
Below are two sports nutritionist pre-match breakfasts from Starbucks that are perfectly easy to digest and energy-dense for your game.
Both of these meals include all of the nutrients listed above and will provide you with the fuel you need to play your best!
Meal 1: Roasted Red Pepper Egg Bites & Loaded Steel Cut Oats
Nutrition Information: 490 calories, 20 g fat, 57 g carb, 20 g protein
I love this pre-match meal option for breakfast or brunch. The 20g of protein from the egg bites will help with muscle protein synthesis and loading up on the carbohydrates from the oatmeal will maximize your energy stores on the field.
Meal 2: Turkey Bacon, Cheese, and Egg White Sandwich & Berry Parfait
Nutrition Information: 470 calories, 8 g fat, 67 g carb, 31 g protein
Another carbohydrate and protein-rich pre-match breakfast for you to try out when you are on the go! I recommend fueling with this meal 2-3 hours before your match.
What Nutrients Should I Avoid in the Pre-Match Meal?
High Fat Foods
Foods high in fat will reduce the rate of digestion and make you feel heavy while playing. Additionally, saturated fats (fried food, butter) can increase inflammation in the body. Before a match, you want to be as fresh as possible and do not want to incorporate inflammation-causing foods.
High Fiber Foods
Fruits and vegetables are wonderful sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All of these nutrients are essential and an important part of a healthy diet. Fiber is a complex nutrient and takes more time to digest. Before a match, you don’t have as much time to allow for digestion and want to focus on easy-to-digest nutrients. Therefore, large amounts of fiber should be avoided in your pre-match meal.
What to Avoid at Starbucks?
Based on the sports nutritionist recommendations above, the Double Smoked Bacon, Cheddar, & Egg Sandwich would not be a good choice for a pre-match meal. This sandwich is high in fat, which would slow the rate of digestion, which would make you feel heavy while playing. It does not contain enough carbohydrates to provide adequate energy to last an entire game
Double Smoked Bacon, Cheddar, & Egg Sandwich Nutrition Information: 28 g fat, 42 g carb, 22 g protein
For the pre-match meal, I would recommend more carbohydrates and less pro-inflammatory fat in the meal. Low-fiber fruit and vegetables are also missing, resulting in a lack of vitamins and minerals in this meal.
Next time you’re on the road, try one of these Starbucks options before your match! In your pre-match meal, include foods that are rich in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and moderate in anti-inflammatory fats. Foods that are too high in fat or fiber since these nutrients take longer to digest should be avoided.
Two easy pre-match options are Roasted Red Pepper Egg Bites & Loaded Steel Cut Oats or the Turkey Bacon, Cheese, & Egg White Sandwich, and Berry Parfait.
If you are looking for more support when you are traveling on the road, my Performance Fueling Club can help. I help athletes go from confused and underfueled to confident and powerful on the field. Apply today!