Nutrition Requirements for Lacrosse
Proper nutrition for workouts, practice and games requires planning. A fluid and hydration plan should be top priority for lacrosse student-athletes. Muscle tissue sits in a fluid base, so staying hydrated every day will support performance and the body’s ability to pass, protect and score a goal. A diet that includes adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat is needed to fuel a lacrosse player and support athletic performance.
Due to the amount of running and sprinting that occurs during a game, carbohydrate is the muscle fuel (glycogen) that is in greatest demand. It is important for lacrosse players to consume carbohydrates daily to keep the body energized for practices and games. The recommended daily intake varies based on training and actual playing time during a game. In general, lacrosse players should aim to get between 5 and 8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-pound (68 kilograms) student-athlete, that equates to between 340 and 544 grams of carbohydrate per day.
Lacrosse players should choose carbohydrates that are packed with nutrients needed to support optimal health and sports performance. Examples include whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, as well as fruits, vegetables, and beans. Simple carbohydrates, like the sugars found in sports drinks, can be used as an energy source before and during activity.
Protein assists in muscle strengthening, repair and recovery which is vital due to the intensity of lacrosse. Lacrosse players should aim to get between 1.4 and 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-pound (68 kilograms), that equates to between 95-116 grams of protein per day.
A nutrient-packed sports nutrition plan should contain a variety of animal and plant-based proteins to support strength and power. Some good examples include dairy – like milk, yogurt and cheese– or beef, poultry, ham, eggs, beans, and other legumes.
Fat is the slow and steady fuel used for practices, workouts, and games. The daily requirement for fat varies based on individual daily calorie needs. Once daily needs for carbohydrates and protein have been determined, the remainder of calories will come from fat. As a rule of thumb, include a minimum of 20 grams of fat at main meals and at least 10 grams of fat at snacks.
Examples of foods that contain fats are oils, butter, avocados, nuts, seeds, salad dressing, and the fats found naturally in meats and dairy products, like full or reduced fat milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Staying hydrated will help improve agility and hand-eye coordination during a lacrosse practice or game. Hydrate with cool fluids like water or choose a sports drink if playing multiple games in a day. For some guidelines on how much fluid you need, review this hydration handout Sip, Sip, Sip! Hydration Tips for Athletes.
Below is an example of how a 150-pound lacrosse student-athlete could distribute total daily calories over the course of the day.