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Food to Eat While Soccer Training

Soccer is a relatively high energy sport consisting of intense bouts of exercise, periods of moderate intensity exercise and intermittent rest periods. Players can run 5 to 7 miles in one game. These athletes have been known to consume fewer calories than they expend, which can lead to decreased endurance and fatigue during training and competition.

Carbohydrates should make up the majority of calories consumed by soccer players. Carbohydrates in the form of glucose, or blood sugar, and glycogen, the carbohydrate stored in muscle, provide the body's main source of energy during moderate to high intensity exercise such as soccer. Soccer players who consume inadequate carbohydrate before training or competition are likely to tire quickly. Foods that contain carbohydrates include breads; cereals; pasta; rice; starchy vegetables; fruit and fruit juices; milk and yogurt; snack foods, such as chips, pretzels or popcorn; and sweets. A meal consisting of about 200 g of low glycemic index carbohydrates should be eaten 3 to 4 hours before training or competition. Low glycemic index carbohydrates tend to contain fiber, protein or fat and do not increase blood sugar as quickly as high glycemic index carbohydrates. Examples of low glycemic index carbohydrates are apples; carbohydrate-containing protein bars; yogurt; kidney beans; or barley. A smaller portion of carbohydrates should be consumed about 1 hour before competition. More simple carbohydrates that are easier to digest should be consumed at this time, such as carbohydrate/electrolyte beverages, dry cereal or graham crackers. During training or competition, it is beneficial to consume small portions of carbohydrate via carbohydrate/electrolyte beverages. After training or competition, carbohydrates should be replaced. Replacement should begin immediately after the event, and then every 15 to 30 minutes for 2 to 5 hours to adequately replace stores. Carbohydrate/electrolyte beverages may be best to start because of decreased appetite immediately after competition. These should be followed by meals containing protein and healthy fat.

Protein and Fat
Protein and fat are also important components of any diet. It is questionable whether protein consumption during soccer training or competition is beneficial. However, protein should be consumed with all meals and most snacks to promote muscle building and recovery. Healthy sources of protein include eggs and egg whites; low-fat dairy products; lean meats; skinless poultry; and fish. Fat is also essential for long-term energy storage as well as the absorption of some vitamins. Healthy sources of fat such as fish, olive, canola and peanut oil should be included regularly in your diet.

Fluid replacement throughout soccer training and and competition is important to maintain endurance and prevent fatigue. It is especially important during hot and humid weather. Children are at highest risk for heat illness. Children should drink fluids every 15 to 20 minutes during soccer training and competition. Carbohydrate/electrolyte beverages are recommended for soccer training and competition because electrolytes are lost when people sweat. It is common, too, to need to replace carbs if you are expending a high degree of energy during a soccer match or practice.

Planning meals and snacks is important for athletes who travel r to prevent frequent intake of high energy but low nutrient-density foods from travel stations or fast-food restaurants.