The following article comes from the May 2016 issue of Amplified Soccer Training Magazine. This issue features ideas on the future of soccer coaching, periodization, speed development, psychology, soccer drills and more training resources to take your game to the next level.
Content contributions come from some of the top professional training, nutrition, mental game and fitness leaders in the industry. Get it now.
By Casey Ames, optimalsoccer.com
Eating for soccer trips is something I’ve put a lot of thought into. It’s hard to stay disciplined on a trip because you don’t have all the resources you normally do at your disposal. It’s so easy to simply eat junk at a gas station or get fast food.
But we can’t do this.
Keeping the diet right on a trip is incredibly important because the stakes of the games are much higher. In order to maintain optimal performance on the field, you need to stay on your diet and not succumb to the easy meals on the road.
In order to help you keep your diet right on the road, I’ve come up with a few strategies that will keep your body happy, your mind alert, and your spirits up while you travel. Specifically, I’m going to go over which foods are easy to pack and which supplements you need on the road.
It’s hard to pack for trips. Between, gear, clothes, and everything else, packing food seems unnecessary.
Packing your own food is absolutely necessary, and it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. The trick is packing a cooler with what I call “mobile meals.” These are foods that are easy to pack, and even easier to put down so you don’t spend your time being tempted by gas station meals and fast food.
You know that as soccer players we need to make sure we are getting the right amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat in order to boost our performance. While this may seem hard to do on the road since it’s harder to cook whole-food meals, you just need a simple alternative to eliminate that stress.
So let’s go over some foods that are easy to pack and easy to eat.
FRUITS AND NUTS
Fruits are a great source of carbohydrates, which we need in order to produce glycogen for our muscles. But which fruits should you bring on the road? Simply put, you want fruit that is easy to eat, and doesn’t leave a mess. Bananas, grapes, and apples are the way to go because they don’t take up a ton of space in your cooler, and they’re all easily disposable.
Nuts are also an excellent source of carbohydrates, and they’re easy to eat on the road. Packing away pistachios, almonds, peanuts and cashews will allow you to keep up your carb intake without sacrificing your nutrition to fast food.
Normally, I am not a fan of protein bars. However, on the road, they are necessary because they are convenient sources of protein and fat that are far better than the fast food alternative.
You need to be careful when choosing the right protein bar though, most of them are garbage and will leave you with your belly aching and the runs. That’s something we don’t want on the field and could have gotten by eating fast food or the gas station burritos.
So which protein bars should you be packing?
My personal favorite are Quest Nutrition Protein Bars. These are made with whey protein and they’re gluten free. Not only are you getting a solid source of protein, you’re also keeping your body happy by not ingesting gluten. If you want to learn more about gluten, take a look at my post on it here.
Finding a good source of fat on the road is a bit more difficult than you might think. It’s hard to pack whole-food meals that encompass all the macronutrients, so that limits our choices of mobile sources of good fat. My favorite on the road is almond butter. First, it’s an excellent source of fat. Second, it is easy to pack. A jar of almond butter fits snugly in your cooler and doesn’t take up a ton of room. Third, almond butter goes well with all sorts of things. You can easily spread it on your apple or banana keeping your intake of carbs and fat on track.
Supplementation is something that needs to be addressed after you lock down your diet. However, on the road, supplementation is huge because you can give your body the nutrients it needs to perform well without eating whole-food meals.
Supplements are also easy to pack. Simply packing away baggies of supplements doesn’t take up much space.
Fish oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, essential nutrients that our bodies can’t create on their own. Moreover, fish oil helps increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and boost your immune system.
Magnesium is an essential supplement for producing energy. Specifically, it boosts cellular metabolism and improves cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functions.
Melatonin is especially important for sleeping while traveling. Sleep is important to optimizing performance on the road because it’s hard to sleep while traveling. When you’re in an unfamiliar location, sleep simply doesn’t come as easily. By supplementing melatonin, you can adjust your body’s internal clock, and get the sleep you need to be a threat on the field.
Vitamin C is important for tissue growth and repair and is essential on the road. With vitamin C, you won’t worry about catching a cold or getting sick as it flushes your system of free radicals and aids in the absorption of iron.
If you want a more in-depth look at vitamin C and soccer players, I have an excellent article here.
Vitamin D is essential for a number of important functions that you want running at optimum efficiency, especially on the road. Vitamin D helps cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and the reduction of inflammation. Vitamin D is also a micronutrient that many people are deficient in. I go into greater depth in how this effects soccer players here.
While it might seem difficult to keep your diet right on the road, it really doesn’t need to be that hard. Simply pack a cooler with foods that will help you hit your macronutrient intake, and make sure you take the important supplements, and you will be a force on the field while you travel.
I hope these suggestions help you while you’re traveling.
Until next time,
Head Trainer at Optimal Soccer