The Key to Success on The Soccer Field is Eating Proper Food!
When I started my soccer career I realized that this was the sport for me. However, I didn't know anything about nutrition for soccer.
Carbohydrate, protein and glycol were like rocket science for me. This part of soccer is the most technical and can be hard to grip in the beginning. But don't worry about that.
Soccer is seen by many as the world's biggest sport with over 130 million players around the world!
Still, the research has been poor and there are people out there believing that Atkins diet and soccer is a great combination!
But times are changing and new researches are being conducted. New reports suggest that you should use the same diet as marathon runners!
Now you probably wonder what a soccer player and a long distance runner have in common, especially since the game of soccer involves fast running and bursts of energy comparing to the continuous long running that is the hallmark of marathon runners.
However this connection doesn't seem to be so extraordinary when you consider what is actually happening during a soccer game.
In a general soccer match you will usually run in a range from 3-7 miles. You will also sprint for about 500-1000 yards, accelerate 20-50 times and also change your direction very often.
As a soccer player you will never cover a marathon distance of 26 miles or more (unless you have some super Duracell rechargeable batteries :-))
The slow and fast running which you utilize on the field may easily deplete your glycogen stores. To avoid that you need to eat quality carbohydrates.
Research has shown that amateur soccer players only eat 1300 calories of carbohydrate/day, which is far below the recommended level of 2300 to 2900 calories.
Are you one of them? I suggest you correct this immediately if you have dreams of a long career in soccer.
The main energy source for your muscles is the glycogen. Glycogen is produced from carbohydrates you eat (apples, bananas, bread, milk etc).
It is vital for your performance to have enough glycogen. If not, you will have a fatigue feeling, your concentration will be poor and recovering from a match or practice will take longer time.
If your glycogen fuels are low in the beginning of a game, you will most likely have few carbohydrates left in your muscles at the beginning of second half.
This simply means that your performance will decrease significantly. You will for example run slower, sometimes by as much as 40-50 % compared to your first half of the match.
Your cover distance will also be reduced by 25% or more with low glycogen fuels.
Do I Need to Eat Fat?
This doesn't mean that a diet for soccer players should not contain fat, instead, you should try to keep it low, because in long running sports, like soccer, your body will use glycogen fuel which is found mainly in carbohydrates.
What About Protein?
As soccer player you need normally to eat 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight per day (1.4 to 1.7 g/kg/day).
Protein is a vital part of your soccer diet as it will repair your muscles as well as boost your immune system.
You may also use protein as fuel before practicing sessions or a big match but it doesn't give you any boost of energy as carbohydrates do. Some good sources of protein include fish, chicken, milk and yogurt.
The Importance of Water
During your practice or matches, your body will lose a lot of water - especially during the warm weather months.
By drinking water you will be able to keep your body hydrated which will give a boost on the field.
This is one of the most important parts of nutrition for soccer players and you should really put effort in getting it right.
Sports drinks usually claim to boost your performance but they are just full of fast carbohydrates that will just increase your blood sugar for a short while.
However, this will not increase your performance to some high level. My advice is to plan your meals and only consume sports drinks when you really don't have time to eat.
When to Eat?
The recommended energy diet for soccer players state that you should eat at least 700 grams of carbohydrate 3-4 hours before the start of your game.
After the end of the match you should attempt to consume enough carbohydrate to replace all the fluid you have lost during the game.
The importance of proper nutrition cannot be emphasized enough. Simply put, without eating right you will never reach your maximum potential which will in turn decrease your chances of reaching your goals no matter how many different soccer skills you master!