It is so important to fuel your body with adequate food before any kind of workout, including baseball! Whether it is for a game, a practice, or a weight lifting session- eating beforehand is essential to maximizing your energy stores, building muscle, reducing fatigue, and improving performance.
The best meal to eat before baseball is one that is high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and fiber, and relatively low in fat. The closer you get to your workout, the more you should focus on consuming carbohydrates. Your pre-workout meal or snack should make you feel good and give you energy without weighing you down, so experiment with different eating patterns in the off-season to find what works for your body!
Read on for more information about why eating before a workout is important, important nutrients to include, foods to eat and not to eat before baseball, and examples of what good pre-game meals and snacks look like!
Should You Eat Before a Baseball Workout?
You should always eat before a workout! That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat a ton or that you have to eat something immediately before you play, but going into a workout fasting or without eating for a long time is NOT going to go over well for your body.
Everyone’s body is going to respond to food a little bit differently, but everyone should eat something in the four hour window before exercising. Maybe your body responds well to having a large meal 4 hours before with a snack an hour before your workout. Maybe you do better with a meal 2 hours before you play and a small carbohydrate snack on your way to practice.
I encourage my athletes to try out different eating times and see what feels best for them. The other important thing to consider is WHAT you are eating before baseball.
Some foods are better for fueling than others. As you understand what foods will give your body the nutrients it needs, you will better be able to experiment and find what works best for your body.
Best Nutrients in a Pre-Game Meal or Snack
There are several nutrients that are essential for your body to have, but not all of them are the best to consume right before you workout. Some people really struggle to eat before a game because they don’t want the food to make them feel nauseous or sluggish. A sports dietitian can help narrow down what about your eating pattern might be causing some of those issues.
A registered dietitian can help come up with a plan that focuses on including the following nutrients in your pre-workout meal or snack!
Carbohydrates (also commonly referred to as “carbs”) are your body’s preferred source of energy, so if you want to feel energized during the game, you better include some carbohydrates beforehand! Carbs are found in a wide variety of foods. Foods high in carbohydrates include:
- Fruit (Dried, frozen, fresh, canned)
- Fruit snacks and fruit leathers
- Starchy foods (Pretzels, crackers, bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, peas, rice, etc.)
- Milk and yogurt
- Sugar and sugary foods
Remember to choose foods that have a moderate amount of fiber. Fiber slows down the digestion of your food and might make some people feel sluggish if eaten in too large of a quantity. Whole grain foods and some fruits tend to be higher in fiber.
Your muscles, hormones, hair, skin, nails, and more are all made up of protein! Your body can best use protein when it is eaten regularly throughout the day, rather than all at once. So, eating some protein before your game might be helpful for your body!
Foods that contain significant amounts of protein are shown below:
- Meat, poultry, fish
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts and nut butters
- Beans and legumes
- Protein powders/shakes
Some of these protein foods can be higher in fat, which is something to look out for before exercise. Consuming a lot of fatty foods right before exercise will probably leave you feeling sluggish and maybe even sick to your stomach.
Remember that the closer you get to exercise, the more you will want to stick to carbohydrate foods, so if you are going to eat some protein before your game, you might want to try and fit it in at least an hour before. Sometimes liquid protein, like is found in milk, is a little bit easier for the body to handle before exercise.
The best time to get well-hydrated before baseball is actually not the day of the game. Hydration is something to pay close attention to in the days leading up to an event. Everyone’s water needs will be slightly different, so one of the best ways to tell if you are well-hydrated is to look at the color of your urine and aim for a pale-yellow color.
Chugging a ton of water before heading out onto the field is not the best idea- the water sloshing around in your stomach won’t feel very comfortable, and you may have to take a couple trips to the restroom pretty quickly.
Instead, sip on some liquids consistently in the time leading up to baseball and continue to take sips of water during baseball. Don’t overdo it, but give your body enough fluids to stay comfortably hydrated before and during the game or practice.
On a hot, sunny day during baseball season, athletes might lose a lot of fluids through sweat. The amount that you sweat also plays into your fluid needs. Baseball players should be replacing their water lost during exercise plus a bit more (125-150% of the fluid lost in sweat) during the 4-6 hours afterwards.
Drinking plenty of plain water is important, but many other liquids can also help you stay hydrated including sports drinks, fruit juice, milk, protein drinks, smoothies, etc. While water is one of the first ingredients in these other liquids, they have other nutrients that can also benefit your body, such as the calcium in milk, the vitamins and minerals in a smoothie, or the simple sugars and electrolytes in a sports drink.
What to Eat Before Baseball
Athletes should remember that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. All foods can fit in an athlete’s diet! However, there are certain types of foods that will likely feel better in your body at certain times.
Before baseball, athletes should choose foods that are high in carbohydrates, but not too high in fiber. Carbohydrates are going to be your body’s main source of energy during baseball, so you will want to keep those levels high and sustained. Many athletes start to feel tired and don’t perform as well when their body runs out of carbohydrates.
If you are eating immediately before a tough workout, eating a lot of protein might not be the best option, but if you have a little bit of time for your food to digest, including some protein might be helpful! Sometimes liquid protein is a little bit easier to digest. Be sure to pair it with a good source of carbohydrates!
What Not to Eat Before Baseball
Let me say it one more time for the people in the back- just because a food is not the best to eat before baseball doesn’t mean it is a “bad” food. Based on how your body works and how it uses certain foods, we do know that there are foods that might not make you feel great if you eat them right before baseball. In fact, you have probably had a memorable experience where you ate something and perhaps regretted it once you got on the field…
Foods high in fat, protein, and fiber are usually not the best choice before baseball, especially in the hours leading up to a practice or game. The more time your body has to digest the food, the better you will likely feel.
If you have a baseball game at 7pm, that doesn’t mean you should avoid fat, protein, and fiber all day! Especially if you are eating more than 4 hours before a workout, you can focus on getting a balance of nutrients. The foods you choose to focus on might slightly change the closer you get to your workout.
Examples of Good Pre-Game Meals and Snacks
It is so important for athletes to realize that what works for one person might not work for them! Experimenting with different foods, timing, and fueling plans is essential to do before you are in the middle of the season.
Here are some pre-game meals and snacks that you might want to try out!
3-4+ hours before:
- Pasta with chicken and veggies
- Chicken and rice with veggies
- Baked potato with chili
- Hot ham and cheese sandwich with tomato soup
- Toast, eggs, and oatmeal with orange juice
- Pasta salad
- Crackers, cheese, carrots and hummus, strawberries
1-2 hours before:
- Pancakes or waffles and milk
- Fruit smoothie with greek yogurt
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (don’t do too much peanut butter if it upsets your stomach!)
- String cheese and dried fruit
- Beef jerky and a fruit cup
- Cheese and crackers
- Carnation Instant Breakfast mixed with low-fat milk
15 minutes-1 hour before:
- Fruit snacks
- Sports drinks
- Fruit juice
- Toast with jam
- Dried fruit or fruit leather
- Low-fat Milk or chocolate milk
- Fruit smoothie (without a lot of added protein)
- Granola bar (low in fat and protein)
Notice how the emphasis is more on carbohydrates as you get closer to exercise? Once you understand the basic nutrition principles of fueling for exercise, you might be able to add other meals and snacks to this list!
Eating before baseball is not a perfect science, but when you understand food and what it does for your body, you will be able to know what foods to try out for improved sports performance. If you look at the examples of pre-game meals and snacks, you will probably notice some patterns. Experiment with the foods you choose and the times that you eat to see what foods work best with your body.
Knowing how to fuel correctly can be a game-changer for athletes and might be what gives them an edge over their competitors!
Sports Dietitians Australia. Fluids in sport. Sportsdietitians.com.au.
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