Diet Plan For A Soccer Player

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Diet plan for a soccer player is critical to becoming a successful soccer player. Soccer is a game of endurance and speed. To perform your best it’s vital to fuel your body with the proper nutrients. Good nutrition not only provides energy, it affects your muscles, joints and bones. It’s important that you choose the correct diet plan for your needs as well as the sport you are involved in.

The Soccer Player Diet Plan

There you have it. The nutrition basics for a soccer player. Now we just need to finish off with a general take away that you can put into action with your next meal to get you a solid foundation for becoming an elite player.

  • Eat 22-24 calories times your bodyweight in pounds.
  • Eat 1 to 1.5 grams of protein times your bodyweight in pounds from good sources such as:
    • Animal meat (do not be afraid of red meat)
    • Fish
    • Eggs
  • Eat Carbohydrates depending on your activity level. If you are burning through your glycogen levels through explosive movements like sprinting and lifting, then you need carbs to replenish them. I recommend getting your carb intake at dinner after your day of hard work. The more research comes out, the less it seems that there is a special window right after working out that you need to get carbohydrates. To restore your glycogen levels, you have about 24 hours. So just get your carbohydrates at dinner with rice, potatoes or yams. Eat slower digesting carbs, such as vegetables, whenever you would like. As a soccer player, who is lifting, doing conditioning and practicing, you should be more concerned with not getting enough carbohydrates then eating too many. Make sure to choose the right carbohydrates, your body will thank you for it.
  • Eat fat, and lots of it. Try to keep it split 1/3 from saturated, 1/3 from monounsaturated fat and 1/3 from polyunsaturated fat, making sure to keep at least a 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. Get your fats from:
    • Saturated
      • Animal fats
      • Tropical oils
      • Eggs
    • Monounsaturated
      • Avocados
      • Nuts
      • Olive oils
    • Polyunsaturated
      • Salmon
      • Fish oil (I recommend taking Cod Liver Oil daily)
      • Seeds
  • Eat as much organic foods as possible. I know it’s more expensive, but it is something you should strive for. Your body will thank you for it.

To round it all off, lets look at an example of what a 175 lb soccer player should be eating on an intense workout day.

  • 175lbs x 23 = 4,025 calories per day.
  • 175lbs x 1.5 = 262.5 grams of protein
  • To replenish glycogen storages = about 500 grams of carbohydrates
  • Fill the rest of your calorie needs with healthy fats.
    • 1/3 from saturated fats
    • 1/3 from monosaturated fats
    • 1/3 from polyunsaturated fats

That is the basics of nutrition for a college soccer player. Eating this way will keep your energy high, help with muscle gain, recovery and allow you to reach your potential as a soccer player. Diet is imperative, and this information is enough to get you to a solid foundation.

If you want to optimize just one part of your diet, it’s probably best to focus on pre-game meals.

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support of the OS community. If you enjoy the information here, please share it and/or comment below. I love engaging in discussion and answering questions in any aspects related to the game we all love. The more we develop a community of players, coaches and performance specialists helping each other out, the more we all gain. Thanks again!

NUTRITION FOR SOCCER PLAYERS: When is the best time to eat?

When Should Soccer Players Fuel Up? For many youth soccer coaches, soccer parents and players — this has to be one of the most asked questions.

The familiar question, “What’s for dinner” takes on new meaning when fueling an athlete who wants to reach peak performance.

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When is the best time to fuel up? What should players eat and when?

A failure to plan is a plan to fail

Although I cannot speak for all elite athletes, I would assume that most have a routine they follow the night before and the day of an event and that you wouldn’t find them just “winging it” when it comes to food and hydration.

FOOD IS THE MEDICINE THAT FUELS PERFORMANCE.

If you are carb-loading or fueling up on processed foods that come from a bag or box, you are potentially decreasing energy, speed, ground covered, and overall performance.  Not to mention, potential weight gain, slower recovery, and weaker immunity.

When in doubt, use the concept of 3’s every 3 (all three macronutrients; healthy carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats every three hours).

By doing so, you ensure that you are taking in the appropriate amounts of nutrients to fuel your activity.  Remember to choose whole foods that nourish the body and work synergistically for you.

Youth Soccer News - TIME FOR FOOD - Nutrition information for soccer players
Youth Soccer News – What is the correct TIME FOR FOOD? Nutrition information for soccer players
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IN REGARDS TO HYDRATING, CRAMPING IS USUALLY DUE TO A LACK OF PREPARATION.

Always drink at least 2 glasses of water upon waking. We tend to dehydrate while we sleep so drinking as soon as you wake, sets the tone for the day.  Add a lemon slice for extra Vitamin C and to gently detox the liver.  Continue hydrating throughout the day by drinking ~2 cups of water every 1.5-2 hours. Half of your body weight in ounces is the general rule but this could vary according to physical activity and sweat rate.

Without getting too scientific, there are those athletes that are so metabolically efficient, they can change energy systems from burning sugar (glucose) for energy to fat (ketones) for energy.  These athletes do not usually “bonk” when they have depleted all of their glycogen stores because they have trained their bodies to use fat as a fuel. For those athletes choosing to eat more healthy fats and less carbohydrates, their pre-game plan may look a little different from the athlete that relies on carbohydrates as their fuel source.

Note 4 hours prior to play for pre-game and those choices may depend upon playing time and older youth players and adults can have caffeine 30 min before the event.

Here are the answers:

Advice for Soccer Players’ Pre-Game Meal

Pre-Game Meal: This meal should be your largest of the day and should include plenty of carbs, a decent amount of protein, and a little healthy fat (ghee, oils/dressings, avocados).

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Examples of great pre-game meals for soccer players could be…

  • Grilled chicken (4-5 oz.), baked sweet potato/regular potato, ~1 cup roasted vegetables
  • Grilled fish (checkbook size), steamed brown rice (1 cup or 1-2 fists), ~ 1 cup roasted vegetables
  • Baked salmon, quinoa (1 cup or 1-2 fists), spinach side salad, ¾ cup pineapple
  • Oatmeal (1-2 cups), toppings of choice (nuts, dried fruit, flax, almond milk, cinnamon), fruit salad (1 cup), 4 oz. OJ
  • Egg omelet or frittata with veggies (spinach, onions/mushrooms, sweet potatoes/potatoes in omelet/frittata or on the side), side of melons (1 cup) or berries
  • Granola with almond milk & banana/berries or Greek yogurt w/ granola & berries (try plain greek and add almond butter and honey or maple syrup)
  • Rosemary lime chicken with sweet potato fries and kale salad
  • Nutty Fruit & Cream; strawberries/blueberries in a cereal bowl topped with raisins and almonds; pour almond milk over top and eat like cereal
  • Taco bowl with ground chicken, spices, corn, lettuce/veggies, and brown rice
  • Baked potato (sweet potato) loaded with chicken, steamed veggies, avocado
  • Sweet potato hash (sweet potato, veggies/onions, fried or poached eggs)

Advice for Soccer Players’ Pre-Game Snack – What to Eat to Top Off:

Soccer players can have a snack 1-2 hours before the event to top off your fuel stores. Make this mostly carbohydrates with a little protein and make sure it’s a familiar food that you know you digest well.

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Examples of these snacks could be…

  • Make your own trail mix; dried pineapple, dried mangos, dates, almonds, coconut flakes, dried bananas, jerky, sea salt or try dried cherries/cranberries, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Smoothies
  • Frozen grapes and a handful of nuts or piece of turkey
  • Banana or apple with almond butter and granola sprinkled (drizzle honey)
  • Applesauce with collagen protein powder mixed in
  • Orange or fruit of choice with cottage cheese or yogurt and nuts
  • Kize, Lara, Kind Pressed Bars
  • All fruit bars with a handful of nuts
  • Gluten-free pretzels with yogurt dip or hummus if tolerated well
  • 2 protein/energy balls

Advice on What Soccer Players’ Should Eat to Reload:

Reload during the game and at halftime with carbs, electrolytes, and fluids to power you through the remaining game.  A small snack can delay fatigue and help with recovery.

Watermelon should be eaten by youth soccer players.
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Examples of these foods could be…

  • Sports gels (can make your own as well with quality ingredients); use 2 Tbs. honey, 2 Tbs. almond butter, ½ banana, and 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Oranges/orange slices
  • Electrolyte drinks
  • Coconut water
  • Homemade sports drink
  • ½ bar (fruit bar, date bar like Lara bar)
  • Applesauce packets or baby food packets
  • Frozen grapes
  • Watermelon slices
  • Elete drops (electrolyte drops) or Drip Drop
  • Dates

Advice on What Soccer Players’ Should Eat to Refuel Immediately After the Game:

Refuel immediately following the match, you should have a recovery snack (within 15-20 minutes ideally).  Make this a mix of carbs and protein to replenish your fuel stores (glycogen) and repair damaged tissue.  Always follow up with an actual meal within an hour after your recovery snack.

Youth soccer news: nutrition informaiton for youth soccer players
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Examples of recovery snacks could be…

  • Kind, Lara, Rx bars
  • Protein/energy balls
  • Veggies and hummus or yogurt dip
  • Fruit with nuts or nut butter or yogurt dip
  • Trail mix
  • Ready to drink protein (such as Orgain)
  • Organic cottage cheese w/ fruit (if you have dairy)
  • Chia pudding
  • Smoothies; add grass-fed protein powder or vegan
  • Gluten free wrap (such as Siete Almond Flour Tortillas) w/ nut butter and fruit or with roast beef and ground mustard for example
  • Deli meat (no nitrate) lettuce wrap
  • Tomato/olive/fresh mozzarella skewers
  • Fruit salad with coconut milk drizzled (could add nuts or seeds/dried coconut)
  • Overnight oats; oats and almond milk in a jar overnight; in the morning, add nuts/seeds, fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.
  • Pancakes w/ eggs, cinnamon, and banana; add almond butter or peanut butter after cooking
  • Egg “muffins”
  • Avocado on gluten-free toast
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Side note: 70% of your immune system is in your gut and sugar feeds those bad bacteria and yeast so think about what you are fueling with when it comes to carbohydrates!

A FOOTBALLER’S MATCH DAY DIET

A professional player’s diet will be rigorous every day, and it’s indispensable for putting in a top performance on a matchday. Every player will have their own way of preparing for the match, but we’ve put together an overview of what most players will do to prepare themselves. For example, the kick-off for the match is at 3 pm.

BREAKFAST

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s no different for football players. Players will kick off the day by drinking 500ml of water to start the rehydration process. Following that, they’ll move onto breakfast and will usually have either porridge or eggs.

While porridge and eggs will do the trick, many players will use different grains like quinoa and make different types of eggs to give them some variety in their breakfasts. Changing what they have regularly means they’re less likely to skip a meal or have a less nutritious breakfast. 

Players will often avoid a fibrous or heavy breakfast as they can take time to digest and make them feel bloated.

LUNCH

With kick-off at 3 pm, players won’t want to eat a large lunch. Playing on a full stomach can cause discomfort, which can distract from the match and affect performance. Most players aim to have a lunch that contains slow-releasing energy from low-GI carbohydrates like wholegrain pasta and rice.

PRE-MATCH NUTRITION

Pre-match nutrition is vital for maintaining sufficient levels of glucose, amino acids and hydration. While breakfast and lunch are part of pre-match nutrition, the hour before the game is crucial. Players tend to focus on three areas at this stage: protein, carbohydrate and hydration:

  • Protein — Players will typically consume 20-25g of protein. For faster digestion and to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort, this is generally in the form of a protein shake.
  • Carbohydrate — Players aim for 30-60g of carbohydrate. Again to avoid discomfort, this is usually in the form of a gel or powdered drink.
  • Hydration — Players will drink water or hydration supplements like Hydrate90 to avoid dehydration in the first half

While most players focus on these areas, some players will also use caffeine and creatine to boost their performance.

IN-GAME NUTRITION

After 45 minutes on the pitch, revitalising is as important as the manager’s team talk. While in the changing room, players will focus on rehydration using water and energy gels. These rehydrate the players and resupply glycogen stores and give the player the energy they need for the next 45 minutes.

POST-MATCH NUTRITION

After the final whistle, players still need to keep on top of their nutrition. Failing to do so can cause prolonged recovery time and cause issues in training before the next match. Professional players focus on the three “Rs” of post-match recovery:

  • Rehydrate — This stage involves consuming fluid to achieve fluid balance. Fluid requirements vary from player to player, so there’s no single recommendation for fluid intake. In general, players should aim to drink 1000ml of water per hour of exercise. 
  • Replenish — Exercise depletes the body’s glycogen stores, and after 90 minutes of football, players need to focus on replenishing them. The focus for this is to hit a specified carbohydrate intake for the day. Players achieve this through one meal or separate meals and supplements. 
  • Repair — Players need to consume an adequate amount of protein to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS). This process uses protein to repair and create new proteins for muscle recovery and growth.

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