Nutrition, Soccer

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The 90 Minute Diet- Nutrition for Soccer Players

Published: 2023-08-15
The 90 Minute Diet- Nutrition for Soccer Players
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Soccer is a high-intensity, extended-duration sport. At most competitive levels, the game usually runs for 80-90 minutes with 40-45 minutes halves. Running for this long is no small feat and can be intimidating and unappealing for many people.  Training and conditioning are essential for building stamina and strength, but nutrition is just as important, if not more so.  Ensuring you eat the right things before and after your game is essential to performance.

When I was younger, I often found that I could eat whatever I wanted and run around without any consequences. It wasn’t until I started playing seriously at the youth academy level that I understood the importance of what I was putting into my body. As an athlete, nobody wants to be subbed out because of poor performance. Poor performance can directly result from the early onset of fatigue and lactic acid build-up in the muscles.

One hot Saturday afternoon, my team, Concorde Fire Developmental Academy (DA), had a game against Boca United, a team from Boca Raton, Florida. Fifty minutes into the game, I was subbed out at the beginning of the second half, and I knew exactly why. I was feeling a level of fatigue that could only be attributed to my poor pregame diet. I realized how terrible it felt to be taken out of the game simply due to poor preparation.



Pre-game Preparation


Once I began playing at the collegiate level, I could truly grasp the importance of my nutrition. Thankfully, I was at an institution with nutritious food and helpful resources to aid in my athletic endeavors. Maintaining a proper meal schedule as a student-athlete can be difficult, but ensuring you don’t skip meals while living on your own with a busy schedule is essential. I would advise that student-athletes stay on a meal plan throughout their collegiate athletic career. The meals we eat before the game are just as important as the pre-game meal on game day!


The day before a game, I prioritize eating a substantial amount for each meal to ensure I have adequate energy going into the following day. As an athlete, you should not wait to hydrate the day before a game; you should stay hydrated throughout. I lose an average of 5-7 lbs. of water weight every game/practice. 


Specifically, the day before a game, I like to make sure that my meal is separated into three categories. I always want to have a carbohydrate, a lean protein, and a vegetable of some sort. My favorites are homemade spaghetti with meat sauce, baked potatoes with chicken, and a green vegetable like broccoli or spinach.



Post-game Recovery


Post-game recovery is just as important as preparation! Your job as an athlete is not over when the game ends. It's up to you to ensure you can be back at 100% and useful to your team as soon as possible. When I was playing at the developmental academy level, I would often suffer from spouts of dehydration after practice and games. I found myself cramping on the way home from games and overly exhausted when I could finally rest. This was when I started to understand the importance of proper hydration and how essential it is to replace key vitamins and electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals such as potassium, sodium, and calcium that are essential to proper bodily functions. I always make sure to drink an electrolyte solution such as gatorlyte or electrolyte. Other options, such as Gatorade and Powerade, are very popular already.



Enjoy your food


Sometimes we want to indulge, and that’s perfectly fine. You shouldn’t stop yourself from eating foods you typically enjoy, as long as you have them in moderation and stay conscious about what you are putting into your body. I like to avoid a lot of artificial sugars like candy and juices. However, one of my favorite treats is fruit! I’ll squeeze my own oranges for a nice glass of homemade orange juice or serve myself some cold pineapple or watermelon after a meal. If you struggle to stay health conscious, don’t be afraid to find a nutritionist and ask for advice on the best foods for your body type.



My Weekly Diet to Stay in the Game