Nutrition: Planning Pre, During and Postgame

Nutrition should be an important consideration in your pregame preparations, during the match and postgame activities. Being able to eat and hydrate effectively can be the difference between a good and bad performance. Unlike many other aspects of soccer, nutrition is tangible. You can control what you eat and drink before, during and after games. But there are so many various energy drinks and other material in this area, what should you be eating and drinking?

Pregame

Pregame you want primarily carbohydrates, such as, pasta. If possible between 2-3 hours before a game you should eat a meal with a plate that is comprised of half carbohydrates, one quarter protein (like chicken) and then one quarter vegetables. As you get nearer to competition you should stay away from solid foods and try to seek carbohydrates from sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade or other isotonic drinks. Energy drinks often lead to heavy crashes in energy, so be careful how you use them.

During

During the game, you generally want to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade. Usually 2-4 cups of Gatorade at half time is sufficient. Furthermore, consuming a protein bar can also be a good way to reenergize at half time. On a warmer day you should be sure to hydrate as much as you can throughout the game. On weekends with multiple games, like tournaments, you should be hydrating consistently to ensure you can perform to your maximum ability.

Postgame

Post-game you should eat within an hour of the game. Your post game meal should compromise of a plate with half protein, one quarter carbohydrates and one quarter vegetables. A plate primarily of protein (chicken, fish, other meat) is important to provide the right nutrients for muscles to repair and recover. A lot of people disregard the importance of the post-game meal and rather have pizza or a burger but this can seriously delay your physical recovery. Again, if you are playing multiple games over a weekend, how you recover can make the large difference in your performances.

Nutrition: What to Eat Before and After Exercise

Pre-Workout Fuel:
Why is it important?

  • Provides psychological edge
  • Provides energy to working muscles
  • Minimizes hunger during practice/games
     

Timing
Meals 3-4 hours before practice or games

  • 2/3 of the meal should be Carbohydrates - Breads/bagels/pasta/rice/fruit juices/vegetables/low-fat yogurt
  • 1/3 protein - Lean meats (lean beef)/chicken/eggs/soy products/nuts/peanut butter

Snacks 1-2 hours before practice or games

  • Rely more on liquid calories
  • Sports drinks
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
     

During-Workout Fuel:
General Guidelines: 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour

  • 2-4 cups of Gatorade or other sports drink—especially important during games
  • Small granola bar and water
  • Handful of dried fruit and water

Post-Workout Fuel
Eat within 30 minutes of completing workout

Refueling Snacks

Whole foods (ideal)

o   16oz low-fat chocolate milk

o   Peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread

o   Yogurt and a piece of fruit

o   Crackers and low-fat cheese sticks

Granola Bars—good if you are travelling long distances and need something quickly on the go
 

Nutrition at Competitions/Showcases

  • If >2 hours between competitions, consume carbohydrate + protein
  • If <2 hours between competitions, consume mostly carbohydrate and a little protein
     

Source: Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center: Nutrition Advisers for Boston University Men’s Soccer.