Lacrosse is quite a demanding sport, so fueling for lacrosse requires commitment and consistency. Working with a dietitian and having a plan in place for fueling and hydrating will help keep you strong, healthy, and performing optimally.
Eating a balanced meal is essential for athletes of all sports - including lacrosse, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated or overwhelming! Simply make sure you have one to two servings of carbohydrates, a protein source, 2-3 servings of veggies and fruit, and healthy fat at each meal to ensure you’re covering all of your basics.
Because lacrosse is so demanding, you have to pay attention to make sure you’re getting in enough calories. Incorporating healthy snacks is a great way to make sure you’re not depriving your body of energy when it needs it the most. Keeping grab-and-go snacks like fruit, bars, packs of nut butter, crackers, etc. in your lacrosse bag or locker is a good strategy to make sure you’ve always got something on hand.
Hydration is crucial for lacrosse players. Because hydration is cumulative, it’s important to make it a daily priority. It’s even more important to maximize fluid intake during the 24 hours before a game. To stay hydrated, you’ll need to take in a minimum of half your body weight in ounces each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll want to take in at least 75 ounces of fluid. Keep in mind that you’ll need to add a little more on heavy training days or when the weather is particularly hot and humid.
Because there are a bunch of variables that go into how much fluid you need to drink to stay hydrated, I want to share a quick trick for you to check your hydration status. Checking the color of your urine is a simple way to decide if you need to increase or decrease your water intake. I recommend aiming for a pale yellow color, too clear and you may be overhydrated, darker yellow could indicate dehydration. Let’s not forget that hydration has a huge impact on performance! On warm days or summer tournaments I also recommend adding in a sports drink or electrolyte beverage. A sport drink such as gatorade also provides easily digestible sugars for your body to use for energy during those more intense days.
Game Day Nutrition
Performance is KEY on game day, so be sure not to try anything new! That means no new foods or hydration. If you want to experiment with a new food, try them during practices to make sure you don’t experience any stomach discomfort.
If possible, plan to have your pregame meal about 3-4 hours before game time. You’ll want a solid mix of carbs, protein and fluids. While healthy fats are crucial for the health and performance of athletes, try not to overdo it on fats and fiber right before your game. About an hour before the game, consume more fluids and a carb-based snack. Think of having a small bar, a piece of fruit, or a handful of pretzels.
During breaks or halftime, you’ll want to have a light carb-based snack (similar to your pregame snack) to keep your body performing at its best. This is a good time to take a few swings of water or your favorite sports drink. Use this short time to take a few gulps of water or sports drink.
Like playing lacrosse, fueling for lacrosse requires a certain level of commitment and consistency. There are lots of moving pieces to stay on top of - everyday nutrition, hydration, and fueling for performance. Working with a dietitian (like myself!) and having a plan in place for fueling and hydrating will help keep you strong, healthy, and performing optimally.