Cal North debuts an ongoing column written by Yvette Waters, MS, RDN, CISSN, Raley’s Nutrition Strategist & Brand Influencer. Waters will be providing Cal North with nutrition tips for youth soccer players each month.
Soccer is a very physically demanding sport, requiring strength, speed, agility and endurance. When you are training or in a game, playing 45 minutes without a sub, you may be continuously moving, running, cutting and sprinting. Without proper fuel, you may not be able to maintain a high level of performance.
Have you ever heard, “Eat more carbs, and you will have more energy?” Or “It is healthier for your body to avoid gluten and dairy.” Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about nutrition and athletic performance. So the question becomes, what should you eat?
My answer: find what works best for you! But as a general rule, making sure you get good quality carbohydrates, protein at every meal and lower fat before practices and games can help set you up for success!
General Tips for Fueling Your Body for Soccer
- Eat a healthy breakfast within an hour of waking for energy balance and recovery, especially when you are in your prominent growing years.
- Don’t skip the protein! Consume protein at every meal (goal: 20-25 grams per meal) and every 3 hours throughout the day to help with muscle maintenance and recovery.
- Remember to stay hydrated! Keep in mind: if you sweat more, drink more.
- Hydrate before, during and after exercise. If you wait until you feel thirsty, that can mean you are already dehydrated.
Example of What You Should Eat & When
Snack before morning training (if doing two-a-days):
- Slice of whole wheat bread and nut butter
- 2 scrambled eggs, 3/4 cup oatmeal with cinnamon and 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola on top, berries and walnuts
- Deli meat sandwich on wheat bread, pretzels, fruit and some Greek yogurt or string cheese with 16 – 20 ounces of water
Snack before practice:
- Trail mix, a medium banana and a little juice diluted with water
Drink after practice:
- Whey protein shake or reduced-fat chocolate milk and some berries
- Lean, high-quality protein, a good carbohydrate (whole grains, vegetables or fruit) and a big glass of water
- Example: A tasty stir fry or chicken/fish fiesta bowl
Snack before bedtime:
- A slow digesting protein, such as cottage cheese or Greek yogurt