As a soccer player you know the demands training and competition can place on your body and mind. Correct soccer nutrition is an absolute must if you want to meet these demands, train effectively and perform at your peak on match days.
No matter what activity you engage in your body needs a diet that supplies all necessary nutrients. You need vitamins and minerals, fibre, protein for building and repairing muscles, fat for healthy cell structure and nutrient absorption and carbohydrate for energy.
Assuming the rest of their diet is adequate, carbohydrate is perhaps the most important area of dietary focus for soccer players. Without adequate carbohydrate intake optimal soccer nutrition is not possible.
The Demands of the Game
A 90 minute soccer game with its close to constant running and sudden, explosive sprints burns through energy reserves. When you consider that in an average game you will run around 10 kilometres, sprint 600 metres and burn about 1600 kcal the need for a solid carbohydrate component in your diet becomes obvious.
The fuel your muscles use during a game is called glycogen. Glycogen is a form of carbohydrate that is stored in your muscles and liver. To make this muscle fuel, your body needs dietary carbohydrate. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrate you won’t have enough glycogen to sustain you through a game and your performance will be impaired, particularly in the second half. You’ll run more slowly, your won’t run as far and the overall quality of your game will deteriorate.
How Much is Enough?
As carbohydrate requirements are the sum of the energy required for normal daily living plus the physical demands made by training and competition, recommended intake levels can be as high as 2400 – 3000 calories of carbohydrates per day for high level soccer players.
When to Eat
Consuming the abovementioned amount of carbohydrate will require carbohydrate rich foods being spread across a soccer player’s daily food intake. However, for optimal soccer nutrition and game performance, players should consume between 1 and 4 grams of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight in the six hour period before a match or training session. Consuming less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight in the six hours before a game is likely to result in glycogen stores that are inadequate to fuel a player through an entire game.
Good Sources of Carbohydrate
Eating for soccer game energy is a very different business than following the latest popular diet. Where many diets today espouse low glycaemic index foods, high energy soccer foods include those with a higher glycaemic index rating. Some examples of carbohydrate rich foods for soccer nutrition are listed below.
- Breakfast cereals.
- Sports drinks and bars.
- Tropical fruit.
After a Game
At the end of a game you’ll have burned through as much as 90% of your body’s glycogen store. To replenish this you’ll need to take in more carbohydrate. Sports drinks are a quick way to do this (and they also replace lost fluids). Whatever type of carbohydrate you choose, though, aim to consume around 500 calories of it in the two hours following the game for optimal glycogen replacement.
Complete Soccer Nutrition
Carbohydrate is an important part of soccer nutrition and the one primarily responsible for your energy reserves. Good health and peak performance, though, both require a properly balanced diet. So even though you may want to boost your carbohydrate intake don’t forget the other food groups. By eating a comprehensive diet that is also rich in carbohydrates you’ll be giving your body what it needs for peak performance and optimal soccer nutrition.Soccer Nutrition – How to Eat for Peak Performance,