Fueling on Game Day
By Allison Kreimeier, MS, RD, CSSD (from US Youth Soccer FUEL Soccer website)
1. Fuel early. Youth soccer players often skip breakfast. Eating breakfast has shown positive effects on the body for those of all ages. If a young player skips out on breakfast, he or she is skipping out on essential nutrients and calories to reach the daily energy needs to perform at the highest level and manage weight.
2. Eat a pre-game meal. Three to four hours before the game is prime time to fill up the body’s energy tank. This meal should be high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat. Two examples of a great pre-game meal include spaghetti with a marinara ground turkey sauce, a roll, and green beans. Another is an herb-baked chicken breast with rice or baked potato, a roll, and carrots. Consider this breakdown when you’re making a pregame meal: 50 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent vegetables, 25percent protein. Don’t forget the fluids!
3. Halftime intake. This is a good time to recharge the body for the second half of the game. Sports drinks offer fluid and carbohydrate replacement as well as electrolytes. Pretzels, bananas, fruit cups, Rice Krispies treats, or granola bars are great choices to provide carbohydrates that quickly digest and are low in fiber and fat to avoid potential gastrointestinal discomfort.
4. Don’t ignore the post-game. A post-game meal and/or beverage is often overlooked. At this point, the body is running very low on energy and needs to be refueled for optimal recovery. Try a deli or grilled chicken sandwich, a chicken burrito with rice, beans, and veggies, or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chocolate milk. Replacing fluids is key, too!