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Soccer Nutrition

Learn more - Fitness & Nutrition Guide

The amounts and types of food that players eat has an impact on not only their sporting performance but also on their growth and general health levels. This section is provided as a guide to help parents of players as well players themselves understand nutrition and its importance.

It is important that youth players (in fact all children and adults as well) get enough energy from their food intake to carry out day to day tasks as well as any sports activities. This can often mean that three meals a day is not enough and extra energy needs to be supplemented by eating snacks. The problem for most people is that they do not know what to eat for main meals and also what snacks to eat.

The amount and types of food eaten by children and adults that play sports is even more important as their energy requirements are greater, needing sufficient energy levels to not only perform their sport or exercise but also to recover.

Soccer players (adults) can average approximately 10km running during a match, some midfielders run 12-13km. This type of running, at a variety of paces, requires energy as well as fitness. You can be a very fit player, but without enough energy stored in your body, you will not be able to perform well. Many players run out of steam during the second half and this is often seen as a lack of fitness, but it can often be caused by lack of energy, caused in fact, by lack of carbohydrates in the days leading up to a match. This would like, complaining that a car that runs out of fuel is a badly designed car! You have to keep your car fueled and with the correct type of fuel. Treat your body the same way!

It is important that players have a good pre-match meal and also that they take on board carbohydrates during a game and especially at half time. Glucose based sports drinks are ideal as they are easy to digest and easy to drink.

Another very important factor related to this, is the amount of fluids that a player drinks. The body is mainly made from water and its important you keep it hydrated, especially in hot weather. Water is probably the best liquid to drink to replenish lost fluids, but some players prefer water mixed with cordial or sports drinks to make it more pleasant to drink.

Be careful not to drink too many soft drinks as not only do the bubbles make it harder to digest before playing sport, but many are caffeinated and will actually cause dehydration rather than hydration. They may quench your thirst but they won't help keep your fluid levels high.

Remember also that when you feel thirsty then you are already getting dehydrated, drink before you get thirsty, especially when playing sports in hot weather.

The three main food types are carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and its important that there is a balance of these food types in everyone's daily food intake. For young athletes, the balance would be around 60 per cent carbohydrate, 25-30 per cent from fats and around 15 per cent from proteins.

Source:  SoccerFitness


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