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Fitness | Fitness Q & A

The right fuel before the game

May 05, 2003|Stephanie Oakes | Special to The Times

Is it OK to eat candy or other sugary snacks for energy before I play my soccer games?

The prevailing advice from doctors, nutritionists and fitness professionals is to eat a snack 90 minutes before any activity or game. However, a sugary treat won't fuel you for a long event (60 minutes or more).

It takes our bodies about three or four hours to digest a meal and about one or two hours to process a snack (depending on the type of food you're eating). If you have practice or a game late in the afternoon, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. Include plenty of complex, not simple (sugary snacks or candy), carbohydrates like whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables.

Also add some protein and moderate amounts of fat. Any other simple sugars you eat should be taken 90 minutes before the game to leave sufficient time for your body to reestablish hormonal balance.

Additionally, keep well hydrated. Our muscles are approximately 70% water, and dehydrated muscles perform poorly. Try a sports drink with water and electrolytes to sustain your energy during games.

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Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. Send questions by e-mail to: stephoakes@aol.com. She cannot respond to every query.

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