The Best Soccer Player Diet to Maximize Your Performance
As a competitive soccer player, you know the game can be incredibly physically demanding. You are some of the only athletes who are expected to play 90 plus minutes with just one break. To succeed, your fueling approach and diet is extremely important!
Throughout a single game, you cover anywhere from 5-8 miles! Not only are you covering a significant distance you are constantly changing directions, making sprinting runs, jumping up for headers, and getting into physical 1v1 battles. On top of all of these physical demands, you have to be mentally engaged throughout the whole game. All of these demands require a ton of energy and this means you need to fuel!
You train relentlessly on the field and in the gym to compete at the highest level but, are you doing everything you can off the field to be a better player? The only way to keep up with all of these demands for every training and game is to give your body the fuel it needs. Implementing a fueling plan is going to ensure that your body has the energy it needs to compete at your full potential on the field.
The largest component of a soccer player’s diet is going to be carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (carbs) are your body’s preferred source of energy. While all of your meals and snacks should contain carbs the amount and type will vary. For example, at meals, you should aim to incorporate long-lasting energy sources such as rice, whole grain bread, and oats. When you are looking for a pre-practice snack, opt for quick energy sources low in fiber such as bananas or applesauce. You will love these cookie dough protein bites! Fruits and vegetables may be less energy-dense than other carbohydrates but they are packed full of vitamins and minerals! As a soccer player, you need to include both in your diet!
Protein is essential to building and maintaining muscle. Getting in enough high-quality protein throughout the day is a must for soccer players! While protein plays a major role in muscle protein synthesis it also functions to support a healthy immune system and provide structure to tendons and ligaments. I recommend for you to aim for 20-30 grams of protein at every meal and 10-15 grams with every snack.
Fats also have many important roles in your body. Along with protein, they help to support a healthy immune system. They help your body absorb a handful of vitamins, support brain function and reduce inflammation. Salmon, avocado, mixed nuts and seeds, and olive oil are all healthy fats. When it comes to fueling, consuming snacks and meals high in fat too close to practice or game time may cause an upset stomach. Conversely incorporating fats into the other meals throughout the day is important.
Last but not least is hydration! Athletes start to show decreases in performance at as little as 2% dehydration (when you lose 2% of your body weight). Too often hydration only becomes a focus on game day, but it is important every day. Link to hydration blog.
Now that you have the basics down it’s time to take a look at how to put it all together. To build your fueling foundation, I recommend using performance plates. For base training days, use a “moderate training” day plate.
What does a typical day of eating look like for a competitive soccer player?
Moderate plates contain ⅓ carbs, ⅓ protein, ⅓ color and they serve as YOUR baseline, from which you will adjust based on your training intensity. The performance plate method is an incredibly helpful tool to help athletes meet their fueling needs.
Fueling does not need to be complicated to be effective! The best soccer player diet for you will maximize performance, keep you healthy, and reduce your risk of injury. If you’re ready to take your fueling and performance to the next level schedule a free call with me to find out more!