There is no secret diet or techniques to prepare you for a match. Keep it simple and listen to your body.
Many players and coaches advocate a large carb load the night before or even two days before a match. Carb loading can cause players to feel lethargic and tired. Carb loading should be avoided but that doesn’t mean carbs should be avoided. Eat moderate amounts of low GI carbs the day before just to make sure muscle glycogen is filled and your body is 100% ready to go on match day. Hydration is critical so you want to make sure you consume at least 3-4 litres of water the day before.
Not even the best of recovery methods can do much a night before a game. Sure they will help but recovery must be done through out the week, every day after training. You must take recovery seriously and make sure that when it does come to game day your body isn’t feeling the aches and pains of a training session you had 3 days before. The most convenient way to make sure you maximise recovery is to consume a post workout recovery drink. These drinks usually contain high amounts of carbs, protein and electrolytes. They will be absorbed quickly and will help aid recovery. Stretching and using the foam roller after training is also a good way of decreasing the aches and pains the following day. BCAA supplementation is also highly recommended, you can read more about BCAAs here.
Hydration is key so make sure upon awakening you consume a pint of water and continue to drink water up until the start of the match.
Breakfast should include some low GI carbs. Oats, sweet potato, rice, bananas and wholemeal bread are good choices. Make sure the portions are quite small as you don’t want to be carrying a stomach full of food before kick off. Consuming protein at breakfast is also important so make sure you consume a protein shake, eggs or some type of protein from a lean meat source. Timing of breakfast would also come into this, you will usually have 5-6 hours before kick off so eating a slow digesting meal such as a steak would be fine. You don’t want to put much stress on your digestive system prior to kick off as you want to conserve energy and feel “light”.
PRE-MATCH – 3-4 Hours Before
This should be a small meal. Chicken, veg and some rice would be ideal here. Make sure your portions are small but adequate enough to supply you with enough energy.
PRE MATCH – 1-2 Hours Before
You shouldn’t need to consume much food during this period. If you have done your preparation correct you wouldn’t need to eat a big meal here or eat anything at all. A protein shake with 25-30g of liquid carbohydrate would be ideal here. You should then sip on BCAAs until kick off to make sure your body is ready for a hard 80 minute match.
There is no secret diet or techniques to prepare you for a match. Keep it simple and listen to your body. You will learn how your body adapts to different types of carbs through out the years and adjust accordingly. Make sure you consume enough carbs to refill muscle glycogen from a training week, hydrate yourself with plenty of water and intake adequate amounts of protein for muscle repair and recovery. Game day nutrition isn’t more complicated than this so if you find a coach preaching he has some special techniques, don’t pay attention. These “Gurus” have nothing more in mind than to make money from you.