Nutrition Recommendations for Soccer
Since the sport incorporates both aerobic and anaerobic activity, soccer players expend a significant amount of energy during a game. On average, a 165-pound soccer player may expend more than 1,500 calories during one game. In order to consume enough calories to support the high energy expenditure of the sport, athletes will need to eat regular meals and snacks, and get extra nutrition before, during and after training and competitions.
The high-energy demands of soccer make carbohydrate intake a priority for players. When considering how many carbohydrates to consume, it’s important to consider the playing time of athlete. In addition, food and fluid intake should be adjusted based on rest days, training and competition.
During training and competition, recommended carbohydrate intake is between 7 and 12 grams per kilogram per day. For a 165-pound (75 kg) student-athlete, that equates to 525- 900 grams of carbohydrate distributed throughout the day. That large range is due to the high level of variation among players. Positions that cover a lot of ground, like midfielders, will have a higher daily carbohydrate need than players who cover less ground, like goal keepers.
Though energy expenditure is much less on rest days, carbohydrate intake is still highly important for daily nutrition requirements and recovery. On days when no training or competition takes place, soccer players should still aim to get approximately 5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight, for the day. For a 165-pound (75 kg) student athlete, that equates to 375 grams of carbohydrate. Include a variety of carbohydrate-rich foods such as breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and beans.
Protein is another important nutrient for soccer players. It is essential for health and helps to repair muscle tissue that was broken down during training and competition. It also helps to build new muscle tissue. All humans need some protein; student athletes that participate in exhaustive, intense activity just need more. The recommended intake for soccer players is between 1.4 and 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, each day. For a 165-pound (75 kg) student athlete, that equates to 105 – 127 grams of protein each day. Ideally, that daily intake should be evenly distributed between meals and snacks throughout the day.
Try to include a variety of high-quality protein sources such as dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as lean beef, poultry, fish, and beans and legumes.
While carbohydrates are the primary fuel used for soccer players, fat also acts as a valuable energy source. The recommended intake for fat is dependent on your daily energy requirement, and that varies greatly from one student athlete to another.
There are two things to keep in mind when choosing how much fat to consume. Fat fills you up, and it can slow down how quickly your food digests. If your meal is too high in fat, it can cause you to eat too little of another nutrient. That’s not going to help your sports performance. The key to eating enough dietary fat, without it causing you to under consume another nutrient, is to evenly distribute it throughout the day, between all meals and snacks.
Sources of fats include nuts, seeds, salad dressings, olives, avocados, butter and oils.