Pulling The Flag

It Was The Night Before Game-Day

It’s the eve of Week 1 of the 2017 season and I’m about ready to buy and prep my food for the night, ready for tomorrow. But for any serious athlete (and I think at the higher end, many flag-ball players would consider themselves that), nutrition could give you those extra little percentage points to tip you over the edge and give that competitive advantage that could be all the difference in a game of inches. I’ll qualify my following diary entry by saying that I’m not a dietitian but that I have developed my regular (ie non game-day) diet over almost 18 years, supported by science and scrutinized by sports nutritionists and dietitians I’ve visited over the years and modify it in the run-up to game days.

T-2 days out

Increase starchy carbs by 10-15%, keep protein and fats the same. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and omega 3 for maintenance. Lots of greens too.

Logic: Start to carb load. Calories will increase accordingly. Lots of greens to avoid any chance of illness creeping up on me!

T-1 day out

Increase starchy carbs by another 20%, drop fat 20% to compensate, keep protein the same but use more casein instead of whey. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and omega 3 for maintenance. An example meal would be a half chicken with sweet potato and broccoli, then pitta with chicken breast and a high calorie carb/whey shake before bed.

Logic: Carb loading increases to a peak, but calories stay at yesterday’s increased level.

Increasing them further would make it slower to digest. I drop my fats to accommodate the extra calories as fats take longer to burn and won’t be as useful over the course of a game.

Image courtesy of James Brewerton


High protein/starch breakfast (usually oat pancakes with whey and casein, with honey and Greek yogurt). Snacks for the day include fruit (bananas and dates are my favorites) and coconut water. Oh and caffeine. Lots of caffeine! Post game I’ll have a high calorie whey and carbohydrate shake to recover, then a really large evening meal with at least 50% of it made up of protein. Casein shake before bed ensures I recover well enough to train in the gym the next day. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and omega 3 for are all doubled.

Logic: I find that we don’t get time to eat a meal on game days because we have to ref in our breaks. As a result, I rely on my fuel stores to keep me going and supplement that with a really big breakfast (digested on the drive!). I’ll take in simple sugars in the form of fruit (I don’t like to take in sucrose as it spikes my insulin too much) to supplement my blood sugar increase from the morning. Coconut water prevents cramping by delivering electrolytes. After we’re done for the day, I need to recover and my efforts with my food are going to go towards that. If I feel sore, I’ll take a cherry juice to reduce DOMS and eat beetroot for the nitrogen to improve blood flow. The vitamin and oil supplements are doubled to help me sleep better as you recover better whilst sleeping, plus it helps my muscles to overcome fatigue faster.

Let me know what you eat/drink on/before game days! Are you as anal about it as I am? Do you give it any thought at all? Let’s hear it!

Image courtesy of James Brewerton

Scott Anthony Martin

Leeds Samurai #51

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