Whether you have dreams of becoming a world-class athlete, or you simply enjoy playing sport for your personal health and fitness, nutrition is key to helping you find the marginal gains you need. It helps you to prevent injury, increase stamina and ensure you recover efficiently post-performance. The sports nutrition industry is worth an estimated $10.5 billion in 2020, which shows just how seriously athletes take nutrition. As a soccer player nutrition is key to give you the stamina for 90 minutes of high-intensity exercise. So, where do you start with nutrition, and how do you use it to improve performance?
Why Is Nutrition Important For Soccer Players?
Soccer is classed as a high-intensity, long-duration exercise. To perform well for long periods you need to understand your macros and fuel yourself correctly before, during, and after each match. Macros, or macronutrients, are the three groups of energy-producing fuels. Each plays a different role in your diet. Carbohydrates give you energy, a lot of carbs can be found in sugar so food such as fruit and vegetables, bread, pasta, rice and grains. Protein is the building block of muscle and is essential in helping it to repair after exercise. Good protein sources include meat such as chicken, pork and beef. Dairy including egg whites and cottage cheese are also high sources of protein, you can also find plant-based alternatives such as lentils, soy and tofu. Finally, fat is essential for building endurance. You can find fat in fish, egg yolks, most dairy products, avocado and nuts.
What Should A Soccer Player Eat During Training?
Nutrition is important during training and a soccer player should balance their macronutrients. A simple guide as recommended by My Fitness Pal would be 35% carbs 35% protein and 30% fat. However, you should calculate your own personal macros ratio. Carbs are essential to give you energy so eating meals such as pasta ahead of training gives you the energy you need. Adding meat or fish such as tuna will give you protein too. Protein is really important for soccer as it helps your muscle to fire during activities and to recover after your session. Needles to say, this where supplements like protein powder come in as protein powder will ensure optimal performance on the field.
Eating Before A Soccer Game
Before a game, you should eat a carb and protein-rich meal around 3 hours before the start. This will help give you plenty of energy without feeling heavy and full. A good rule of thumb is that 1/3 of your plate should be carb, 1/3 protein, and the rest made up from vegetables. This will give you the energy you need for 90 minutes of high-intensity exercise. It will give your muscles the power they need and will give you extra hydration, minerals, and nutrients too. If you need a boost before the game, try a whole food snack such as an oat bar with fruits.
Post-match Nutrition For Soccer Players
Recovery is really important for soccer players. After a game, you will want to increase your protein and replenish your carbs. This will help your body to rebuild and repair your muscle while also replacing the energy you lost through the game. Many athletes will have a protein shake immediately after a match, if you don’t want to take supplements a great recovery drink is a chocolate, honey, banana and salt smoothie. This will help you to replenish your electrolytes as well as giving you protein from the milk. You could also add Greek yogurt for extra protein, or a raw egg. Then you should eat a full meal such as grilled chicken and rice with broccoli as soon as you are able.
Don’t forget, hydration is essential when it comes to performance so keep your fluid level high. Work as many whole, natural foods into your diet as possible and get a good balance of macronutrients too. You will feel the benefits and see the results in your games!