Nutritional Guide

Soccer Nutrition – Pre/Post Game Meals

Introduction

Soccer players are constantly looking for ways to improve their performance, increase their body’s potential to perform and forcing their bodies to achieve their optimal form.  Training leading up to a tournament or a big game is done with hard work and a daily commitment to do the little things right. With the amount of effort and time spent in training one’s skills and body comes a tremendous amount of high energy consumption and that is where a player’s nutritional intake (fuel) can affect his or her performance.

High energy can be obtained through a diet that is rich in carbohydrates and well balanced all around with proper nutrients.  Carbohydrates are the main fuel and energy source for the body and a soccer player needs lots of carbohydrates to perform at his/her optimal level.  Protein is also very important for a soccer player’s diet because proper consumption of proteins can help the body to recover quicker and can help to support muscle growth.  Healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocadoes, and other foods are equally important and essential for players to maintain a healthy diet as long as these fats are consumed in appropriate increments.  A general rule for high level athletes is to consume 60% carbohydrates, 25% proteins, and 15% fats in their regular diet.  Fluids are also very important for players to consume before, during, and after competitions.

Pre-Game Meal


The pre-game meal should be consumed 3-4 hours prior to a soccer game to ensure that the body can properly digest and use the fuel from the meal to support the athletic exertion that will subsequently take place.  Plenty of water should be available at the pre-game meal.  The meal should be planned around individual likes and dislikes and so variety is also essential.  Carbohydrates with low Glycemic Index (GI) should be consumed prior to a game in order to preserve the body’s energy stores and provide long lasting energy throughout a full game.  High GI foods should be consumed immediately before and during the game to provide for lost energy during the first half of games.  

In-Game Nutrition

Each player should drink 10-12 ounces of water 30 minutes prior to the game, 8-10 ounces of water before kick-off, and 10 ounces of water at half time.  Water should be available to all players at any time prior to, during and after games.  Sports drinks are okay, but contain lots of sugars and salts and so if a player does decide to drink a sports drink before, during or after a match, he/she should drink at least double the amount of water to ensure that proper hydration of the body is maintained.  

Post-Game Snacks

Immediately following the game (within 30 minutes), water should be available to all players to help the body to rehydrate and recover.  Light snacks should be provided if there is a game the next day or later in the day.  These snacks should include high carbohydrate and protein foods.  Trail mix, rice crispy bars, watermelon, other fruits, crackers and sandwiches are good examples of foods that can help the body to recover and regenerate energy for future activities.  The post-game meal should be consumed immediately after a match when players’ glycogen stores are wide open and able to consume the most in order to regenerate the most stores for the next match.  The post-game meal should contain a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats.  Calories are important and should be consumed at a rate of 2500-3000 per day.  Below are some foods that are suggested for consumption by high level athletes.

GI FOODS LIST
 LOW GI FOODS

Spaghetti

Pasta

Oatmeal

Cereals

Rice

Oranges

Grapes 

Pears    

Apples 

Sweetened Yogurt

Fat Free Milk (Chocolate Milk is best)

Green Beans

Nuts

Grapefruit

Dried Fruit

Avocado

Peanuts              

Green Peas, Green Vegetables

All Bran               

Popcorn

Cauliflower

 HIGH GI FOODS

Graham Crackers

Peanut Butter Crackers

Corn Chips

Honey

Watermelon

Pretzels

Chips

Dates

Baked Potatoes

Rice Cakes

Cheerios

Waffles/Pancakes

Bagels/Muffins

Bread

Cream of Wheat

Fruit Roll Ups

Cheese Pizza

Bananas

Ice Cream

Raisins

Juice Boxes


 
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