I feel like explaining nutrition is important to soccer players should be obvious. But it’s not, and this frustrates me. It frustrates me because it’s not specifically the players fault, or even the coaches fault. It’s the diet industry’s fault. If you google “Soccer Nutrition”, the top page is filled with differing views, and most of them are WRONG! People are just following the old, “common sense” practices, which are actually hurting our players.
These include that soccer players should eat high carb, low fat diets. Players still think that wheat is the best place to get carbohydrates from. This is causing inflammation in our bodies. Low fat is wreaking havoc on our hormones because we think dietary fat = body fat (it doesn’t).
Now the point of my site is to make soccer nutrition less intimidating. I’ve spent years reading the latest studies, cross examining every diet option I come across and most importantly highlighting the parts of diets that give the best results for elite soccer players.
I want this site to be a place where all soccer players / footballers can come to get their diet info, ask questions if they have them, so they can stay focused on the game we all love. I’ve spent years wading through studies, crap diet plans and nutrition dogma so you don’t have to.
However, none of this matters if players and coaches don’t realize what they are missing out on if they don’t take the first step to take nutrition seriously. It isn’t just youth players and young coaches, and it’s not just soccer players. CBS recently did a series of articles on how NBA players are starting to realize what a true diet can do for you. These are guys making millions of dollars, working with the best performance nutritionists and they are just now starting to eat correctly.
I don’t want soccer players to have to wait until they are professionals and can afford to pay a lot to have a team nutritionist to work with. This site is nutrition info that I wish I knew growing up.
So to get to t he heart of the article, here are my TOP 5 REASONS SOCCER PLAYERS NEED TO TAKE NUTRITION SERIOUSLY.
1. If your diet isn’t right, you are drastically minimizing your gains
When it comes to lifting and conditioning, most people know that your improvements don’t happen during training, it happens when your body repairs the damage from the training. Your muscles grow because when you lift, you get micro-tears in your muscles, which your body then fixes bigger and better than they were before. It’s natural human adaptions.
The thing is, if you are eating improperly, such as lots of sugar and high inflammatory foods, you are not giving your body the best tools to rebuild with. It will constantly struggle to recover, which means you will not be gaining the muscle, losing the fat, getting as fit and learning skills as fast as you should be.
So eat right, recover faster.
2. You’re hurting your learning ability if your diet is off
Working on a new move? Trying to master a bending free kick? These things seem completely unrelated to nutrition, but they aren’t. Yes you can get good, even great at these things without nutrition, but it is going to take longer. Yes, you can improve your learning ability through nutrition and once you realize it’s affects, it’s pretty mind blowing.
If you give your brain the best tools, it’ll repay you by performing better.
The way your body learns new skills, such as shooting, passing and dribbling is that it strengthens certain circuits in your brain so the action is performed better. Basically, you are building the memories of how to touch or hit the ball right. Food can improve this process.
I could get all science-y with it, but that’s not the point of this article. Just know, the circuits that your brain builds and reinforces needs nutrients that the correct diet can give to it, so then it builds faster. That’s pretty damn cool.
Another way nutrition helps you learn is that it can improve your sleep. This is an indirect way of helping, but sleep is where your brain consolidates memories. Sleep is really, really important, for your body, brain, and game. If you’re eating correctly, then you are sleeping better and forming memories faster. Even using simple hacks like eating raw honey before bed can drastically improve your sleep.
So eat right, learn skills better.
3. You’re hurting your long-term health
The C spot is the intersection of short-term performance and long-term health. Nutrition makes this much easier to hit. (For now, ignore hypertrophy. That will be addressed later when discussing muscle-building).
Take a look at this graph by Keith Norris from Ancestral Momentum. Looks pretty simple but it makes a really good point in a very easy to understand way. Often times we jeopardize our health, longer-term and short-term, just to get that extra bit of performance out of ourselves. This is unsustainable and will lead to injuries.
The C marker on the graph is where we want to be. That’s the spot that keeps us healthy, on the field and playing long careers. Going past C, where your health declines can have sudden effects, such as pushing yourself too hard and pulling a quad (I’m guilty of this, sadly multiple times).
Long-term effects are harder to see, but they are why some players can last longer in their career than others kind. Plagued with injuries and just slowing down in general? A crappy diet will definitely contribute to that.
Hitting that sweet C spot gets a hell of a lot easier if your nutrition is good. You will be recovering faster, have an anti-inflammatory diet and your hormones will be balanced. This will keep you on the field, feel great and playing your best for years beyond others.
4. You Will Play Better
This one is simple and should be enough to get any player focusing on their diet. If your diet is good, then you are fully fueled for games, your brain is clear and you will be more confident, because you know you are dedicating your life to the game.
The funny thing about nutrition is that you don’t realize how drastic of a difference it makes until you take it seriously. I’ve played years with bad nutrition, and played with tons of players who were really good, but did not eat right. Then, when I learned the right way to eat, I saw a drastic improvements. When I got the players I played with to switch up their nutrition, we saw drastic improvements.
If you want to be the best player or coach you can possibly be (and if you don’t, I’m surprised you’ve read this far), then you need to eat right. Luckily for you, that’s why I am here and the best place to start is this article I wrote.
5. You Will Feel Better
Changing up your nutrition to the proper diet has many benefits that you’ll see in your game, thinking and with your body, but one of the best reasons to take it seriously is how it makes you feel.
I’m not kidding that this is one of the best reasons to step up your eating game. You mood is greatly affected by the hormones in your body and the bacteria in your stomach (gut bacteria affecting mood is a new discovery, and an exciting one for nutritionist to follow) . Optimal dopamine and serotonin levels makes you feel happy and driven. Testosterone is largely responsible for your confidence and sex drive. Eating incorrectly really screws up the bacteria in your stomach.
These hormones that determine how you feel, day in, day out, are drastically influenced by the food you put in your body.
If you follow the diet and nutrition tips I prescribe here on Optimal Soccer, you will feel like you can dominate the world, and this is all thanks to treating your hormones and body the right way.
There’s nothing worse than waking up and feeling groggy, unmotivated and insecure. Eating Optimal Soccer style, removing the crap from your diet and adding in the right carbs, fats and protein will truly change the way you feel and this will carry over to your game and everything else in your life.
So there you have it. The top 5 reasons to get your diet right. We currently live in a world full of crap information, pushing crap foods. Get back to the basics, eat natural foods and build a solid foundation for your game to flourish on.
I am here to help you. Let me swim through the crap diets, read the tedious studies, decipher the information and present it to you in the best way possible. This is our mission here at Optimal Soccer, and I refuse to let players stay in the dark about nutrition like I did for the majority of my soccer career.
Thanks for reading! Until next time,
Head Trainer at Optimal Soccer