Did you know that the average soccer player covers 5-7 miles during a game? This is definitely a sport with high energy expenditure! That means that you should do some planning around food and fluids. Fueling properly and staying hydrated will help you play well through the end of the game.
About 1-4 hours before your game you should have a meal that includes plenty of carbohydrates. Foods like pasta, fruit, cereal, potatoes, rice and vegetables are usually well digested and can top off your glycogen stores. (Glycogen is the fuel that your muscles use. You will really call on your glycogen stores as you get into the later minutes of the game.) You can also help your performance by “pre-hydrating” – going into the game well hydrated. Drink 12-16 ounces of water a couple of hours pre-game, with another 4-8 ounces about 15 minutes before the start.
During the game you can consistently play hard by keeping up your fluid intake and getting some carbohydrate. Sports drinks can be very helpful here, because they are designed to provide both. (Sports drinks also provide electrolytes, particularly sodium, which your body loses when you sweat.) Try for about 4 ounces (4 gulps) every 15 minutes. If you can’t drink during the game, you will want to be sure to get your fluids during the half time break. If you prefer to drink plain water, try eating something like a few pretzels to give you carbohydrate and some sodium.
Practice your fueling and hydration when you are practicing your skills. That way you can learn what works best for you. Food, fluids, fun…have a great season!
© 2015 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN