Daily Eating for Health and High Energy

Good food is not only one of life’s pleasures; it is also a powerful tool for helping you to be a better soccer player. Eating the right foods at the right times can help you train at your best so you can then compete at your best. It will also improve your health and future well-being. Unfortunately, eating well on a daily basis doesn’t just happen magically. You need to understand good nutrition, and find time to food shop, so you’ll have wholesome sports foods available. You also need to find time to fuel up and refuel with an eating schedule that enhances your energy and improves your performance. Unfortunately, the chaos of training and general schedules that lead to erratic eating patterns may result in losing track of what you have—and have not—eaten. In this chapter, you will learn the basic tips about how to eat well, even when you are eating on the run. But first, it helps to understand what “eating well” means. A simple definition is to eat:

1.     At least three kinds of wholesome foods at each meal.

2.     At least two kinds of wholesome foods for each snack.

3.     Evenly-sized meals about every four hours throughout the day (as opposed to “crescendo eating” with a small breakfast and a large meal at the end of the day).

4.     At least 90% of the calories from quality foods and, if desired, the remaining 10% from sweets and treats.

Luckily for today’s soccer players, you (or your parents) don’t have to be a good cook to eat well. You can still manage to nourish your body optimally even if you are dashing from school or work to workout, and are spending very little time in the kitchen.

Here are some guidelines to help you make optimal food choices:

1.     Try to eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day.

2.     Choose a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables each day: red apples, green peppers, orange carrots, yams, or white potatoes. If you can’t eat them, drink fruit and/or vegetable juices.

3.     Enjoy whole-grain products at least two times per day, such as oatmeal for breakfast and whole wheat bread for lunch. The rest of the recommended grains can come from enriched grain products, such as enriched pasta. In general, at least half the grains should come from whole grains. (Whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, oats, corn, barley, etc.)

4.     Drink 3 cups (24 ounces; 720 ml) each day of fat-free or low-fat (soy) milk or yogurt, or eat the calcium-equivalent in low-fat cheese (1.5 ounces (45 g) of cheese = 8 ounces (240 ml) of milk or yogurt).

5.     When selecting and preparing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, make choices that are lean, low-fat, or fat-free.

6.     Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats and choose healthier oils such as olive and canola oils, nuts and nut butters, and oily fish such as salmon.

This is an excerpt from the Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark.