After @baxterholmes brought the NBA's PB & J sandwich habit to light in his great story on ESPN, I couldn't wait to share my go-to healthy peanut butter and jelly secrets. 

PB & J is easy, light, and yummy so it's no wonder why players reach for it pregame. Our game day often starts at 8-9am and ends around 11pm. There are healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options available throughout that, and there's normally a nap period for players between 12p - 3p. With a game time of 730p you end up with a no-man's land period from 430p - 7p where players are hungry but don't want to eat something big right before the game. 

Too much food during the 3-4 hour window prior to competition can lead to spending energy on digestion, drastic changes in blood sugar/energy, feeling bloated, or grogginess. You will want to avoid big amounts of refined sugar, deep fried items, spicy foods, or caffeine prior to a workout or competition. 

Everyone is different, but typically you want to keep food intake simple and light in the 3-4 hours prior to competition. The PB & J can be a good option as long as it's made with quality ingredients and not over consumed. Proceed with caution because it can be easy to eat 2-3 of them in a sitting- they're a comfort food and they're light. 

If PB & J isn't your thing, a few other great pregame food options include a scoop of unsweetened nut butter and a square of dark chocolate, fruit with plain yogurt, mixed nuts with raisins, crackers with cheese and quality deli meats, a small turkey sandwich on sprouted or sourdough bread, or a small cup of coffee with cream or milk but no or light sugar. 
Now for my secrets on making the perfect PB & J sandwich that hits both health and taste: 

INGREDIENTS:
Unsweetened, natural peanut butter. Low sugar or no sugar added jelly (I prefer blackberry), sprouted whole grain/nut/seed bread. 

INSTRUCTIONS:
Toast the bread. Spread peanut butter on each slice of bread. Apply jelly to one slice. Bring the peanut butter only slice to the slice with jelly to make a sandwich. Enjoy. The secret is peanut butter on both slices and using enough jelly so that it's slightly oozing out the sides!!


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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS spent 6 seasons as the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and is the founder of TD Athletes Edge.  He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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