Game Day Nutrition For Soccer Players
What should I eat before a game? During my game? After my game? Nutrition is the key to success. You might have heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” As an athlete, this is a crucial saying. Fueling your body with the proper foods before and after your matches will help optimize your performance on and off the pitch.
Keep in mind, everyone is different. Some people may not be able to eat during a match, or maybe some can only eat certain foods before a game. With that being said, here are some nutrition ideas to try this season.
Before Game FUEL:
Whether your game is early or late in the day, aim to fuel up with enough time to digest the foods. This should be a meal between 300-500 calories about 3-5 hours before a game, and a light snack 1-2 hours before kickoff. The meal should mostly contain easily digested carbohydrates (which translate into energy), small amounts of fat, fiber, and protein.
- Breakfast Meals:
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Eggs, Fruit, Veggies
- Low-sugar, whole grain cereal with fruit
- Protein shake, yogurt, fruit
- Bagel, toast or waffles, with PB, eggs, or fruit
- Lunch/Dinner Meals:
- Pasta with a meat and white or red sauce
- Chicken (turkey, beef, fish) and salad
- Turkey or Ham sandwiches and fruit
- Pre-Game Snacks:
- Granola bars or Protein bars
- Bananas, Apples or Oranges
- PB/Jelly sandwich
- Trail Mix
- Sports drinks
Post Game FUEL: This all depends, some people might have another match that day and some might not being playing until the next week. Timing is crucial for fueling your body with the proper nutrients. Regardless of match timing, you still want to look to eat something within 30-45 mins after. You want something with 10-20 grams of protein and a decent amount of carbs and fats to refuel you. If you don’t have another match that day, look to refuel with a big 300-500 calorie meal.
- Snacks In between games and 30-45 minutes after:
- Protein shake
- Sports drink (low sugar)
- Chocolate milk
- Trail Mix
- Protein Bars or Granola Bars
- Post Game Meals:
- Grilled Chicken (Fish, Beef) with Vegetables and Rice
- Pasta with meat and Vegetables
- Burrito or Burrito bowl with rice, beans, vegetables and meat
- Sandwiches or wraps with meat and vegetables
- Stir fry with meat, rice and vegetables
At the end of the day, try to listen to your body. Know what you can and can’t eat, as well as when you should and shouldn’t eat. Don’t forget, ALWAYS stay hydrated! Water is your best friend, and you should drink it before, during, and after a match. Finally, when making nutritional decisions, remember “you are what you eat.” What you put in your body can make the difference between good and great performance.