As a soccer player, fueling your body with the right nutrients ensures you perform your best during practice. Whether you are a beginner or a veteran player, knowing what to eat before soccer practice can make all the difference in your performance on the field.
In this blog, we will discuss the best foods to eat before soccer practice to help you stay energized, focused, and ready to tackle every challenge that comes your way!
Why Do You Need to Eat Before Soccer Practice?
Eating before training is important to maximize energy levels and prevent feeling sluggish on the field. Athletes who eat a good meal or snack before soccer practice report the following performance results:
- Increased energy levels during training
- Increased concentration in the classroom or at work
- Desirable body composition
- Greater power, speed, and endurance
- Increased lean muscle mass
What Nutrients Should Be Included Before Soccer Practice?
The goal before practice is to fuel your body with easily digestible energy. The right food can help you feel energized and confident during practice. Below, I break down the correct composition of nutrients to accomplish this!
Your soccer practices are high-intensity workouts that require a lot of energy. Carbohydrates are your main source of energy during training!
You have limited carbohydrate storage in your body. Before training, you want to load these stores up as much as possible to maximize energy levels,
Antioxidants help manage the physical impact of practice or training sessions. These foods will increase muscle endurance and strength while also reducing inflammation, ensuring your body is refreshed for the practice ahead of you!
Electrolytes maintain body temperature and function, especially during exercise. As you know, soccer practice can be intense and physically demanding. Ensuring that you are hydrated and have the optimal ratio of electrolytes in your body is essential.
Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium regulate your fluid balance and overall body water function. Without proper electrolytes, you risk cramping and overheating.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps provide long-lasting energy during physical activity, like soccer practice. Protein is also responsible for repairing and rebuilding muscle after exercise. Including protein in your pre-soccer practice meal keeps your muscles strong, prevents soreness, and speeds up recovery.
Meals to Eat Before Soccer Practice
Our goal is to optimize your performance on the field. Knowing how to prepare yourself for these practices will help you reach your goals during training. The following are some of our PFC athletes’ favorite meals to eat before practice:
For your pre-practice breakfast, you want it to set you up for a day of success. It is especially crucial for soccer players who need consistent energy and endurance for practice.
Do not skip your breakfast! Without breakfast, your body lacks the necessary nutrients to sustain you for your intense soccer practice.
Here are some athlete pre-practice breakfasts favorites:
Greek Yogurt with Granola and Berries
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein. Adding granola and berries to your yogurt provides carbohydrates and antioxidants. These toppings will help you maximize your energy levels during practice.
Whole-grain Toast with Peanut Butter and Banana
Whole-grain toast gives your body the carbs that provide sustained energy. Topping your toast with peanut butter and banana adds more easy-to-digest carbohydrates and healthy fats. Both of these foods are essential for optimal muscle function and recovery.
Lunch is a great time to check in with your nutrition goals for that day and modify your fueling if the day wasn’t off to a good start. Lunch is an opportunity to replenish and refuel your body’s energy stores ahead of afternoon practice. The right foods at lunchtime can help you replace the glycogen stored in your muscles.
Here are some pre-practice lunch favorites
Turkey & Cheese Sandwich
In my podcast episode with Sports Dietitian, Brooke Wyatt, we discussed how underrated sandwiches are as a pre-practice or pre-game fuel source. A turkey sandwich with cheese, lettuce, mustard, and sourdough bread is a great pre-practice option. Pair it with pretzels and clementines on the side for an easily digestible and energizing pre-practice meal.
I have worked with many athletes that practice at 1:00 or 2:00 pm making lunch very challenging. You want to avoid eating anything too heavy going into training but if you skip lunch, you will not eat until dinner.
If this sounds like you, try some liquid energy! I love a good breakfast and a smoothie (or smoothie bowl) 2 hours before training. You will love this Blueberry Almond Smoothie before practice.
Similar to lunch, dinner is a great time to assess your fueling for the day and how things may need to be modified to ensure you have enough energy for training.
Here are some pre-practice dinner favorites:
Marinara Pasta with Veggies and Salmon
This plate has everything you need to recover and push through your day and get ready for tomorrow! Whole-grain pasta is a good source of complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy, while added vegetables like broccoli and bell peppers provide important vitamins and minerals. The lean protein from grilled chicken or fish helps to support muscle repair and growth, while also keeping you feeling full and satisfied.
Ground Turkey Teriyaki Meatballs with Rice and Zucchini
This meal provides a good balance of protein and carbohydrates for sustained energy and long-going endurance. All of the meal components are low in fiber and can be easily digested before your training session.
I love this recipe from Natasha’s kitchen.
What Foods Should You Eat 1 Hour Before Practice?
When fueling 30-60 minutes before soccer practice, listen to your body and choose easy-digesting foods that work well for you. It is a perfect time for a carbohydrate-rich snack. I like to call this a fueling top-off!
Avoid foods that are high in fat or fiber, which can be harder to digest and may cause stomach discomfort during practice.
Here are some foods to consider eating one hour before soccer practice:
- Dried fruit
What Should You Eat Before 6:00 am Practice?
As a retired college soccer player, I understand how uncomfortable it can feel eating before a 6:00 am morning practice session. I hear this question every single day! And the answer is no, you don’t need to wake up at 4 am to eat a meal! But you still need to fuel!
Since you do not have much time for digestion before an early morning soccer practice, you want to fuel yourself with easily digesting nutrients! Foods that are high in fat and fiber take longer to digest. Consuming these nutrients too close to training will result in bloating, nausea, and stomach cramps during practice.
- Fruit snacks
- Cookie Dough Protein Bites
What you eat before soccer practice can make a significant difference in your performance on the field. Opt for meals that provide a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, low-fiber veggies, and anti-inflammatory fats to help you feel energized, focused, and on your best game.
When you fuel properly you can take your training to the next level and achieve your full potential on and off the field.
If you are ready for more individualized support, apply to the Performance Fueling Club (PFC). PFC is a sports nutrition coaching program that provides professional-level sports nutrition for athletes of all levels. This flexible program combines on-demand resources and live coaching to help you always meet your goals! Apply today.