12 Jan Soccer Nutrition
The game of soccer takes a lot out of you, and it is important that your body gets the nourishment it needs in order to continue to perform at a high level. By following this soccer meal plan, you should notice your energy levels improving, and you will probably feel better on the field, and after the game.
What you eat before a game will make a difference in how you feel during and after the game. On a gameday, it is important to start out with a proper breakfast, since a well-balanced meal when you wake up will stop your body from breaking down its own muscles for nourishment.
A lot of different foods will work just fine for breakfast on gameday, at the very least, you should try to have a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit to give your body something to feed off of. For more energy, try a more complete breakfast with toast, waffles, fruit, and milk. Eating a large breakfast is good if the game isn’t for several hours, if it is only an hour or two away however, be sure not to eat too much, since it’s possible to get sick to your stomach if you are too full during a soccer game.
Try to avoid foods high in fat and sugar, donuts should usually be avoided because they are often caked with sugar, and are high in fat content from the frying process. Also some cereals have an extremely high sugar content, while it doesn’t hurt to have a little sugar right before a game, eating a lot of it a few hours before the game can cause you to have a sugar crash right around game time.
Eating a good lunch will get you geared up for late afternoon games. For the most part, stick to a meal with plenty of carbohydrates, pasta, bread, etc. This will give your body a lot of energy over time. When you are eating lunch, try to avoid fast food, since it is more than likely going to be greasy, which affects both your digestion and hydration. Fast food also has more calories from fat, and has a lower amount of protein in the food, and a high amount of sodium.
Like breakfast, you need keep in mind what time the game will be compared to what time you are going to be eating lunch. 3 hours is a good rule for eating before a game, since it gives your body plenty of time to digest the food and start to release energy. Eating too much right before a game can lead to lethargy and the inability of your body to efficiently digest it.
For evening games, eating a proper dinner can mean the difference between feeling great on the field, and feeling tired on it. It is extremely important to give yourself at least a couple of hours in between eating dinner and playing a soccer game, since dinner tends to be a larger meal, and since your body uses dinner to help replace some of the nutrients that were lost in between lunch and dinner.
As far as what kind of food to eat, a lot of the same foods from lunch should work just fine for dinner, especially leafy greens and fruits, since your body will most likely have used up most of its stockpile of vitamins and minerals. One important aspect of dinner is making sure you are eating healthy, which means fast food should be a no go and other foods which are high in fat should also be avoided.
Eating after a game is important because you just expended a lot of energy on the field, and you need to replenish your body so that it can both sustain the muscle it already has, and help foster new muscle growth. This means eating a lot of protein after games, which comes primarily from chicken and other lean meat.
For early morning games, eating lean sausage will give your body the protein it needs, while at the same time it can hold you over until lunch. Afternoon games between lunch and supper should also be followed up with some protein, but eating fruit like oranges and apples can help both with hydration, and energy. Evening games which take place after dinner need to be followed up with quite a bit of food, since your body is going to be working throughout the night in order to heal itself from the game. Cottage cheese and chicken is a great way to give your body the casein protein it needs at night, as well as filling you up before bedtime.
Being properly hydrated is extremely important before, during, and after games. Without enough water, your body will not be able to perform to its highest capacity, and you will increase your chance of developing muscle cramps. If your game isn’t going to be for several hours, you can drink things like milk and tea, if there isn’t a lot of time between the now and the game, it’s best to stick to water and possibly a sports drink.
During the game, water should be the number one drink. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are great for older kids who really work up a sweat out on the field. For younger children who may only play for an hour or so, sports drinks may not be the best choice due to their high sugar and sodium content. If a young child is absolutely exhausted and sweating after a game in the hot sun, giving them a sports drink would probably be beneficial, since the calories they burned off on the field will more than make up for what is perceived as “extra” calories in a sports drink.
This guide has merely touched on all the basics when it comes to what you should eat around game time. Everyone is going to have their own unique needs and schedule, and it is important that you take that into account when deciding for yourself, or your child, what to eat and drink before a soccer game.
Remember to keep checking back as we will be expanding on soccer nutrition, recipes and other great information for both kids and parents.