Can you believe it’s already May? That means… summer tournament season is here! You might be wondering how to fuel for your summer tournaments, especially since you might not have played in the hot summer heat in over a year. Don’t worry, because I’ve got five fueling tips for you to boost your performance during your summer tournaments!

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

Now that it’s summer, it’s more important than ever that you stay hydrated during your games. At a minimum, you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. So, if you weigh 140lb, you should drink around 70oz of water. This is equal to just over two 32oz water bottles, per day.

It’s important that you establish a solid hydration routine around game day to prevent cramps and regulate your body temperature. The first step is to make sure you’re hydrated, even before your games! You should have 16-32oz of water about 2-3 hours before your game, and an additional 8-10oz of an electrolyte-containing drink around 1 hour before. If your game is early in the morning, drink water throughout the day before and add an electrolyte drink to your pre-game fuel in the morning.

In an ideal situation, you’ll be able to drink 8-10oz of fluids every 15-20 minutes of your game. However, you might not get a chance to rehydrate until halftime. I suggest sipping on at least 20oz of a cold sports drink, like Gatorade or Powerade, towards the beginning of halftime. This will help you refuel, rehydrate, and allow your stomach to settle before going all out for the second half! After your game, drink 24oz of fluids per pound of bodyweight lost to replenish what was lost in your sweat. 

2. Carb-Load Before a Game!

When it comes to maximizing your performance, carbs are your best friend! Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in your muscle and liver. This is your main source of fuel during a match, and it can help prevent you from running out of energy by the second half. The night before a game, eat a meal with at least half of your plate consisting of carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, or potatoes. Not only will a meal like this fuel you for the next day, the carbs will also help improve your sleep quality and help you feel recovered come game time.

3. Have a Solid Pre-Game Breakfast!

Your pre-game breakfast might look different depending on when your match starts, but one thing will always be the same: eat your carbs! Aim to eat a meal that is ½ carbs, ¼ color, and ¼ protein about 3 hours beforehand. Focus on having easy to digest meals that are low in fiber and fat. Foods high in fiber and fat take longer to digest, but you don’t want your body to focus on digestion at this time! Check out one of my favorite overnight oats recipes for a quick and easy breakfast option to give you energy throughout your match.

About 1 hour before kickoff, aim to have a carbohydrate-rich snack like fruit, juice, or a 3-ingredient bagel. These snacks are higher in carbs and lower in fiber and fat. This will give you energy and curb an upset stomach.

Make sure to have a carb-rich snack that’s low in fiber and fat about 1 hour beforehand.

4. Use Halftime to Re-Fuel!

A 15-minute halftime seems like it flies by way too fast. Make every minute count by recovering, re-fueling, and re-hydrating! Like I mentioned earlier, try to start this re-fueling process as soon as possible to let your stomach settle before the second half. A cold, electrolyte-containing drink will provide you with hydrating fluids, electrolytes, and a boost of carbs. Additionally, try to have an extra carb-rich snack like the ones below to boost your energy and delay fatigue.

Snacks like salted pretzels, dried fruit, and applesauce packs can easily be stored in your bag!

5. Cool Down With Your Post-Game Fuel!

Post-game fueling is just as important as pre- and intra-game fueling! Your recovery starts the moment you step off the field. At this time, it’s important to focus on replenishing your carb stores, eating protein to support muscle repair, and hydrating properly to lower your body temperature. Aim for the ideal 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein as soon as you can. You can make a refreshing post-game smoothie if you’re home soon after your game or pack a bottle of chocolate milk if you think you’ll have a hard time eating. You can also drink coconut water or eat watermelon for a refreshing and hydrating snack, but be sure to pair it with a protein-packed snack like greek yogurt. Once you are able to eat another meal, I suggest having a balanced performance plate with ½ carbs, ¼ color, and ¼ protein.

Just like any skill you practice during training, or any conditioning you do during off-season, you have to train your body to handle any fueling changes. Practicing some of these habits now, such as eating breakfast before training or drinking a sports drink during practice, will help you get accustomed to them come game day. If you’re interested in optimizing your nutrition over the summer, be sure to join the waitlist for my Summer Nutrition Intensive program, where you’ll learn how to build and maintain a strong fueling foundation with a community of like-minded soccer girls!

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