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5 Ways to Keep Your Athlete from Being Hangry at Kick-Off

We’re a month into football season, but coaches are still seeing athletes show up for practice and games without a proper meal. This is a no-no! Here are five tips to help your athlete avoid being “hangry” from Arkansas Children’s Sports Medicine Athletic Trainer Jonathan Elrod.

Athletic Trainer Jonathan Elrod

  1. Carbs are key. Pre-game meals are designed to provide energy quickly. A good pre-game meal should be about two-thirds carbohydrates and one-third leaner protein. Fat takes longer to convert into fuel, so fatty fried foods are not only a bad source of readily available energy, but also make you feel fuller and heavier which can decrease your performance. 
  2. Avoid spicy foods. Since nerves before the big game can already cause an upset stomach, it is also important to keep hot flavors to a minimum. Choose baked over fried, tomato-based sauces over cream based sauces and yogurt over ice cream. Depending on how heavy the meal is, it should ideally be eaten 3-5 hours before competition. It is OK to add a little extra salt to your food because it will help you hang on to fluid longer.
  3. Reach for water first. Ideally, someone should drink about half their body weight in pounds in ounces of water a day. This is for someone who isn’t exercising, so it is even more important for those that are exercising to have plenty of water. 
  4. Sports drinks are also good. But stay away from energy drinks. They provide needed carbohydrates and electrolytes. Athletes really should avoid drinks with tons of sugar, carbonation and especially energy drinks. Exercise is already causing an increase in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure and pile on caffeine can just add to that and create a potentially dangerous situation.
  5. Eat a snack between 30 and 60 minutes after a game. This can aid with energy replenishment and muscle recovery. These should include a mix of complex carbohydrates and protein. Things like lean meats, rice and baked potatoes are good examples. It is also important to use water and sports drinks to replace fluid lost.

If your son or daughter is injured on Friday night, you can walk in on Saturday mornings through Nov. 19, from 9-11 AM, without an appointment. Just go to the main Arkansas Children's Hospital entrance at 1 Children's Way and head to the Orthopedic Clinic to the left of the red elevators. You can also call (501) 364-GAME to plan ahead.

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