Racquetball Diet and Nutrition: What to Eat Before and After a Game
There are a lot of great reasons to work out. Whether your goal is to get in shape, stay in shape, or just to have fun, some sports and workouts will meet your needs and help you reach your goals.
One of the best sports to play for a fast-paced, full-body workout is racquetball. When you play, you’re constantly in motion, switching directions and bursting forward and back to get to the ball. Your swing also works muscles from your legs, through your core, and into your arms.
But whether you play casual or competitive racquetball, what you put in your body and when you eat it can make a big difference in whether or not you get everything you want out of your match.
So what should you be eating before a game to get your best performance on the court and the best results for your body off the court? Does your diet after a game matter?
Important Notes on Diet and Exercise
Before going into some general recommendations and guidelines for pregame and postgame diets, it’s important to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach to diet and exercise does not exist.
Everyone has a different body with a unique metabolism and health history. So while the tips and advice that will follow can make a great starting point, you should be prepared to tweak the calorie amounts or the time frames we recommend to best fit what you need.
And if you are just starting on a weight loss journey—congratulations! Incorporating racquetball into your workouts is a great idea! Be sure to check in with your doctor to make sure you have all the information you need to make steady progress towards your goals.
Tips for Using Racquetball for Weight Loss
Racquetball is an incredible aerobic exercise and is a great sport to embrace when you decide to lose weight. Depending on the pace of play, a 45-minute racquetball match will burn between about 380 and 550 calories in a person weighing 160 pounds.
That puts racquetball in the same category as games like tennis and soccer as a weight-loss method. But if you don’t pair your exercise with dietary adjustments, you won’t have any luck shedding those pounds.
So how do you know what to eat before a game to lose weight? And how do you figure out what to eat after a game? Do you even need to worry about that? Should you practice pregame fasting? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered when you are looking to lose weight. Luckily, the answers to these questions aren’t too complicated.
Some people encourage fasting before workouts to ensure that you will burn more calories than you have consumed to that point in the day, but that approach has some drawbacks.
While taking a so-called “fast-and-burn” approach to a workout by skipping breakfast before a morning game may result in more calories burned during your workout, missing that meal will rob you of the stamina you need for a sustained workout.
Additionally, exercising while fatigued can lead to more injuries like sprains or stress fractures that can result in a forced stop to your workout routine. You may also find yourself eating more after your workout to make up for the lack of food beforehand—which may completely defeat the purpose of fasting in the first place.
Instead of removing food from the equation, plan out your workouts and meals. Focus on complex carbohydrates to fuel your glycogen (the short-term energy storage chemical in your body) stores before a racquetball game, and work in more proteins and fluids afterward to help with hydration and recovery.
Be sure that you are eating your meals on a regular schedule and that you have factored in the calories they provide so that you can be sure to burn more calories during your racquetball games, practice sessions, and other fitness activities such as yoga or strength training.
Using Diet to Gain a Competitive Edge
While racquetball is excellent for weight loss, not everyone is playing for that reason. A lot of people play racquetball because it’s fun and because they love to win. And with the range of competitive leagues and tournaments available to racquetball players, there is no shortage of chances to do just that.
As previously mentioned, a game of competitive racquetball gives you a workout similar to many other sports. So if you already have experience planning what to eat before a game of soccer or what to eat before a basketball game, you have a good idea of what a pregame diet should look like for racquetball.
When planning pre-game meals for athletes, you again want to focus on glycogen. That’s going to ensure your body has the necessary stores to keep you going strong throughout your match. And you want to start to build up that glycogen the night before.
Looking at what to eat the night before a game or especially the night before a big tournament, you want to eat starchy foods. Complex carbohydrates from pasta, potatoes, or rice will serve you well the next day. You don’t want anything too fatty, and you should be careful about foods that may upset your stomach during play.
As the game approaches, stick to light, easily digestible foods. You don’t want to eat anything too sugary. And you don’t want to eat too much. Running around the racquetball court with a stomach full of junk food and milk sloshing around is not a pleasurable experience.
After an intense game of competitive racquetball, your muscles will need some help recovering. This is where high protein meals can prepare you for the next workout and the next game by giving your muscles a recovery boost.
But what about eating during a game? Drinking water and sports drinks are recommended during a game to stay hydrated and avoid cramps and fatigue. Be sure not to drink too much or too fast, though. Overhydration can wear you out just as much as underhydration.
When it comes to what to eat during competition, avoid eating anything too sugary during a game as it won’t really give you any lasting fuel. Bananas can be a good snack because of their starch and high levels of potassium.
Food for athletes during competition is all about providing sustained energy, avoiding fatigue, and facilitating recovery. But what do pregame and postgame meals look like, and when should you eat them?
After generally examining what to eat before sports games and the best foods for postgame, here are a few more specific tips for your meal preparations.
Pre Competition Meal Examples
Before a competition, you want your primary source of nutrients to come from carbs. Limit proteins and fibers, and fats. Your body needs those, but they are more important after you’ve made your mark on the court.
To ensure you are properly hydrated going into your match, figure out your weight and make sure you’ve had around six milliliters of water for every kilogram or roughly one fluid ounce of water per 10 pounds. This should be done four hours before your match, if possible.
You should also eat your 1,000 calorie pregame meal about four hours before you play. This gives you time to digest and process your food before you get on the court. If you don’t have that much time before your game, a 300-400 calorie smoothie about an hour before your competition will work.
Post Competition Meal Examples
After you’ve finished your game/workout and have come off the court, you should begin to focus on recovery. Any strenuous exercise will damage your muscles to a certain extent, so you want to take steps to help them get into good condition for the next big matchup.
Get a snack with some carbs and protein along with fluids and sodium to keep yourself hydrated and replenish your electrolytes within about 30 minutes from the end of your workout. If you aren’t hungry yet, focus on hydration—but don’t avoid eating for too long.
You shouldn’t gorge yourself postgame, but a nice turkey sandwich on some whole-grain bread or a bagel topped with some fresh veggies and a little low-fat yogurt on the side would do your body good.
Use Your Food to Fuel Your Progress
Whether you play racquetball casually as part of your weight loss regimen or you participate in competitive racquetball for fun and your health, what you eat can help you achieve your goals on the court.
Establishing a routine for your meals that takes your workouts and matches into account will help keep you from falling into junk food traps or unhealthy weight loss strategies while ensuring your body gets what it needs to perform as well as possible and avoid fatigue-based injuries.
If you need help determining an ideal caloric intake level, discuss your fitness goals with your doctor and with fitness and dietary experts. Then chow down, drink up, and put your best self out on the court!