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Nutrition Tips for Athletes

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To schedule an appointment with a physician or other Sports Medicine expert, call
1-855-93-SPORT (77678).

UPMC Rooney
Sports Complex
3200 S. Water St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex
8000 Cranberry Springs Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

In order to perform your best at game time, your body needs the right nutrition and hydration. Follow these tips from UPMC Sports Medicine — before, during, and after your next game — to help maximize your athletic performance and avoid potential injury.

Visit UPMC Sports Medicine Nutrition Services for more on how to fuel your body the right way and get the most out of every practice and game.

Pre-Game Eating

Start three days before games and eat a little more at each meal.

Increase your pre-game meals by adding:

  • A larger bowl of cereal.
  • One or two sandwiches for lunch.
  • A larger serving of rice, pasta, or potatoes at dinner.

This will help your body store more fuel for upcoming games.

Stay Hydrated

Pick your fluids wisely.

Drink 1 water bottle or 20 ounces of fluid 1 hour before practices and games.

Be sure to drink at least 1 water bottle for each hour of practice and competition.

Choose Skip
  • Water
  • Sports drinks
  • Milk
  • Juice
  • Soda
  • Energy drinks

Fuel Your Muscles Well

Eat every 3 to 4 hours, beginning with breakfast and a morning snack. Eat a snack before practice, such as yogurt, a granola bar, small bowl of cereal, or bagel with a little honey.

Incorporate carbs in to your meals.

Muscles require carbohydrates to function properly and avoid cramping.

Ideally, carbs should take up two-thirds of your plate at all meals.

Choose Skip
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Cereal
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Candy

Include some fat in your diet.

Choose Skip
  • Nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Small amounts of salad dressings, mayonnaise, or oil
  • Wings
  • Ribs
  • Hot dogs
  • Fried foods
  • Fatty meats

Pick your proteins wisely.

Proteins are not an ideal fuel source for sports.

They should make up about one-third of your plate at all meals.

Choose Skip
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork chops
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs, cheese, and milk
  • Beans (pinto, black, navy, white, black eyed peas)
  • Fatty or fried meats
  • Burgers

Post-Game Eating

What you eat and drink after the game are just as vital as before and during.

For ideal recovery, eat or drink something within 15 minutes of finishing a practice or game.


  • A 20-ounce sports drink.
  • 2 handfuls of trail mix or dry cereal.
  • 2 granola bars.
  • A package of peanut butter crackers.
  • A small bag of pretzels.

Visit UPMC Sports Medicine Nutrition Services for more on how to fuel your body the right way and get the most out of every practice and game.

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