Soccer players cover an average of 5 to 7 miles during a match. All this sprinting, jogging and changing direction require a lot of energy. As energy levels deplete, the risk of making a bad play increases—30 percent of all goals are scored in the last 15 minutes of matches. It’s critical that soccer players make their game-day nutrition a priority, so they’ll have the energy to perform their best throughout the entire match.
It’s recommended that over the course of a game day, a soccer player’s caloric intake should come from 55-65 percent carbohydrates and 12-15 percent protein.
Examples of Complex Carbohydrate Examples of Simple Carbohydrates
- Oatmeal (old-fashioned or Steel Cut) Pasta, bread, waffles, toast, deep dish
- Yams (almost same as sweet potatoes) pizza
- Rice Dry cereal without the milk and low sugar (corn
- Sweet potatoes or rice based)
- Multigrain hot cereal (mix or barley, oats, rye Bananas, oranges, grapes, mangos
and a few others) 4. Sports drinks, v8 Fusion Fruit drinks
- White potatoes with skin Snack crackers and cookies low in sugar
- 100% whole wheat bread
- 100% whole wheat pasta
- Beans and lentils (great for healthy chili recipes)
- Cream of rice hot cereal
- Butternut squash
- Fresh Beets
24-48 hours before
48 hours-24 hours before game time we focus on a complex carbs as a higher percentage of our diet. We also have to hydrate. Water is the best source of liquid for the body. Complex carbs will give most energy for a longer period, but our body must do a larger amount of work to turn these into available energy or excess fuel for storage.
As game time approaches it does little good for us to fill our body with future fuel (complex carbs). That is, fuel that will not be available until after the game, or being digested heavily during the game. Timing is critical.
Hours Before (Or Between Matches)
Continue the intake of fluids (water). If we have a game at 11 a.m., it does us little good to be eating whole wheats, grains and raw vegetables at 8am. We need an energy source that will be READY very soon. We also don’t want our body to be heavy into a “hard digestive process” DURING the activity. So we would drop to simple carbs such as white flour-based foods and “some” limited sugars. These will be converted much quicker and available to us sooner. We should also provide the body and digestive process with plenty of fluid. So, eating a big bowl of steel cut oatmeal an hour before the game will probably do more harm than good. It can also cause stomach discomfort and steal energy for digestion with little to no return.
90 Minutes Before
Almost too late. Really at this point it is too late to try and fuel the body. It also may trigger a spike in insulin release which will cause low blood sugar levels.
The last hour before the game (and during the game such as halftime) is used for liquids and mild levels of simple carbs. Sports drinks are formulated with a very low percentage of carbs for this reason. If any foods are eaten at this point they should be very limited simple carbs. An example is a few crackers and some sports drink.
Piece of fruit
Bowl of oatmeal (old fashion or steel cut)
3-4 slices whole wheat bread toasted or waffle/pancakes with little syrup
Glass of fresh fruit juice (not concentrated)
Tuna or grilled chicken
Bagel, sub sandwich
Mixed salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing
Glass fresh fruit juice
Low fat or bran muffin
Snack Bag of nuts and raisins
Tournament with Multiple Games
Two days before: If possible, cut back on exercise to replenish fuel stores.
Day before: Eat a high-carbohydrate breakfast, lunch and dinner with extra fluids.
Day of: Eat a familiar high-carbohydrate breakfast. This is not a time to try new foods.
During: Consume carbohydrates every 60-90 minutes to maintain normal energy levels. High fat foods such as nuts provide sustained energy.
After-Game Meal (30-45 minutes after)
This is the best time to replenish your depleted energy stores and recover from intense exercise.
- Carbohydrate improves glycogen (i.e., stored energy) replacement (Bagel, Sandwich, Fruit)
- Amino acids from protein help reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (Milk)
- Protein rebuilds muscle tissue (Lean Chicken or Tuna)
- Lots and lots of water. There is no replacement for water.