Fueling on the Road
(Adapted from Erika Sharp, RD, CSSD, “10 things families can do to stay healthy while on the road” FUEL Soccer website)
BRING A WATER BOTTLE. Hydration is a huge part of athletic performance and safety, so it makes sense that this is Number 1. Pack a refillable water bottle (ideally with some insulation) so you can fill up often.
PACK A COOLER. Game days and especially tournaments turn into very long days, typically in warm environments. Pack a cooler to keep your beverages cold and snacks safe from food-borne illnesses.
REQUEST A ROOM WITH A FRIDGE AND MICROWAVE. As simple as this sounds, most hotel rooms do not have these as standard. Call ahead and make sure you have these in your room.
RESEARCH THE AREA. Locate and identify the following within a 10-minute drive from your hotel or soccer complex for those last-minute trips:
Grocery Markets, Healthy Food Stores
A successful game day always starts with a solid breakfast and most youths have their go-to foods or must-have choices. Make sure you pack these with you or locate a place where you can get a complete breakfast for your stars. Aim for a lean protein, healthy fat (avocado, nut butter, nuts/seeds), lots of grains/starches (cereal, bagels, oatmeal), and fruit(dried, fresh, or as juice). Grains, starches, and fruit are your child’s fuel so make sure they load up on their favorites in a natural/unprocessed way to give them energy all day long.
SNACKS! SNACKS! SNACKS! This is a big one and can come in many different forms. It is important to have options depending on what mood, mindset or needs your athlete has. Pre-packaged snacks are readily available at grocery stores and most gas stations. Stock up on these easy grab-n-go items, like cheese sticks, yogurt, pretzels, bars (protein and granola), fruit cups, apple sauce, beef jerky, and trail mix. Whole fruit is great because it comes in its own wrapper, popular choices are grapes, apples, oranges, and bananas. Halftime or between games are key opportunities to add more fuel or start the recovery process. Peanut butter balls, PB&Js, and sandwiches are quick ways to get them ready for their next move.
STAY AWAY FROM FATTY FOODS. These are readily available at the complex and what hungry/under-fueled bodies crave since they pack a ton of calories in a small bite. These foods digest slowly and leave you feeling sluggish, which doesn't turn into a ‘W’ at the end of the day. Stay away from fast-food restaurants!
RECOVERY ITEMS. These days you hear that performance is really all about how well you recover. Make sure you have the 3 “R’s” to plan for recovery.
Re-fuel your mind and body with carbohydrates.
Re-build your muscles and immune system with protein.
Re-hydrate your body with fluids.
A quick way to accomplish all three is chocolate milk, which can be found at all gas stations or even purchased as a shelf- stable option and then chilled in your cooler.