Playing soccer can be demanding on an athlete’s body requiring endurance, speed, and power. Midfielders can run anywhere from five to seven miles during a game, placing them at higher risk for dehydration and poor energy levels if they’re not fueling properly. Sports nutrition should not be overlooked and should be an important component of soccer training to enhance sports performance.
1. Fuel early for AM training. Fasting before workouts can lower blood sugars and reduce energy levels. Eat a small amount of carbohydrate (not too high fat or protein) about 45 minutes before practice.
· 1 slice whole grain toast with small amount of nut butter
· Banana + chewy granola bar
· 2 Fig bars
2. Hydrate well before and throughout practice. Drink 20 ounces of water about 1-2 hours before practice and continue drinking 4-6 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes during training. Consider adding electrolytes if exercising in warm, humid temperatures.
3. Fuel up during practice if playing longer than 60 minutes continuously (eat easily digesting carbs).
· Fig bar
· Small box of raisins
· 3-4 carbohydrate chews
4. Re-fuel with a post-workout meal or snack. Drink 24 ounces of fluid and eat a larger meal containing whole grains, lean protein and heart healthy fat to refuel your muscles.
· 2 eggs, whole grain toast with avocado, berries and milk
· Oatmeal made with milk with added nuts, cinnamon, raisins or berries
· Greek or Icelandic yogurt with berries, nuts and whole grain toast with nut butter
· Whole grain pasta with pesto chicken, vegetables and glass of milk
· Nut butter sandwich, glass of milk and fruit
· Turkey or chicken wrap sandwich with vegetables, fruit and glass of milk
5. Choose foods that fight inflammation. Eat more berries, beets, nuts, whole grains, tart cherry juice, low fat dairy and fatty fish to help reduce inflammation from intense workouts.
6. Eat a pre-practice snack. Eat a small snack about an hour before practice, especially if you have a second afternoon practice.
· Granola bar
· Fruit and yogurt
· Small handful of nuts with fruit
7. Eat a bedtime snack. Consider eating a bedtime snack containing carbohydrate plus protein to continue refueling your muscles overnight, especially if you have an early morning practice and cannot eat a large breakfast.
· Greek or Icelandic yogurt with berries and nuts or granola
· Protein smoothie made with Greek yogurt, berries and avocado
· Nut butter sandwich with a glass of milk
8. Choose lean protein. Eat lean protein at all meals and a small amount at snacks to improve muscle recovery. Healthy protein choices include eggs, cheese, low fat milk/yogurt or non-dairy milk fortified with pea protein, chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, soy beans, nut butters, nuts, and tofu.
9. Adjust food portions based on training level. Eat more food on hard, intense training days and eat less on easy training days. The Athlete's Plate is a helpful guide to figure out how much you should eat based on the intensity of your training.
10. Limit added sugars. Eating foods and drinking beverages with added sugars can increase inflammation and is not nutrient dense. Added sugars are OK during training or right after to refuel your muscles (drinking chocolate milk after practice or using a sports drink during training on hot days).