Sports Nutrition Basics

Why is it important to pay attention to sports nutrition? The right fuel can help you optimize your training and reach your personal best.

Your approach to nutrition should include everything you consume – not just what you eat, drink or supplement with around training or matches. Understanding what and when to eat on a daily basis will have a huge impact on your performance, overall health and energy levels.

Soccer is a combination of endurance and quick bursts of speed. Your body uses a combination of carbohydrates and fats for fuel. The longer the exercise, the higher percentage of fat that is burned; however, if there is not enough carbohydrates to use as fuel, then fat is not able to be used efficiently and your performance will suffer.

Fluids

Dehydration is one of the major causes of fatigue while playing soccer. Hence preventing dehydration is a vital part of your sports diet. Drink fluids, mostly water, during and between meals.

  • Pre-workout. Drink enough that you can comfortably exercise.
  • Post-workout. Weigh yourself pre- and post-exercise. For every pound of weight (fluid) loss, drink 16-24 ounces.

More on Hydration

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel for your muscles. The longer and more intense the exercise, the more carbohydrate your muscles need. Are you eating nutritious carbohydrate foods at each meal and snack? Examples include fruits, grains and starchy vegetables, such as peas, corn, and potatoes, as well as milk and yogurt.

  • Pre-workout: Eat a carbohydrate-rich snack or small meal, depending on timing and tolerance.
  • During workout: Drink a sport drink or diluted juice, or eat a small amount of carbohydrate. Some people like sport gels or similar products.
  • Post-workout: Drink a carbohydrate-containing beverage soon after finishing. Including protein with carbohydrate following your workout will aid in muscle recovery.  Milk meets these criteria.

Proteins

Protein is the building blocks for muscle growth and repair. A constant breakdown and regeneration of muscle tissue occurs every day which needs to be fueled by the dietary intake of protein. Your protein needs are influenced by the length, frequency, and intensity of their workouts. If you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet it's important to remember than you are most likely getting plenty of protein and do not need protein supplements.

Take a close look at your meals and snacks. What are the carbohydrate-rich foods? Is your diet properly balanced between carbohydrates, proteins and fats? Do you have a few servings at each meal? Do you carry a water bottle all day? Can you tolerate eating and drinking before, during and after your workout?

Here are some tips on daily eating for health and high energy