Soccer Nutrition Misconceptions: Setting the Record Straight

nutrition tips for soccer training programs

If you’ve already signed up to participate in a soccer training program for summer, you’re probably very familiar with the rules of the game and the skills you need to play it. Building up your physical stamina is important in a sport like soccer. You’ll need to run, walk, sprint, jump, and kick — many times, for a full 90 minutes. While regular involvement in training and in youth soccer tournaments will increase your endurance, you’ll also need to fuel your body in the right way. Much to the frustration of many coaches, there are quite a few misconceptions about proper nutrition for soccer players. These myths tend to get in the way and keep them from playing their best. Below, we’ll expose the truth behind some of these popular nutrition lies.

MYTH: Timing doesn’t matter for pre-game meals

Truth: Actually, there is a specific timetable you should follow for fueling up before your game. Ideally, you should sit down to eat at least four hours prior to game time. That’s because your body needs at least that much time to process the food you eat into usable energy. By eating an hour before or more than five hours before, your body won’t be able to use that energy to the best of its ability.

MYTH: As long as you get enough protein, your diet is fine

Truth: You do need to get enough protein, but how you get that protein matters a lot. Protein is often consumed in conjunction with fat, but that’s not good for soccer players. If you’re having chicken, make sure to remove the skin first (and definitely don’t fry it up!). Meats should be lean and/or trimmed of fat. Before a game, a combination of meats and carbohydrates will be your best bet.

MYTH: Your body will tell you when you need to re-hydrate

Truth: This is true for most mammals, who don’t really need to drink until they feel thirst. However, humans are different. By the time you realize you’re thirsty, it’s actually too late. You need to make sure you’re well-hydrated before the game ever starts and drink every 15 to 20 minutes during game play. You’ll need to drink during halftime, too. While this is especially important when you’re playing in your soccer training program for summer, you’ll need to keep up this routine in cold weather, too.

MYTH: For post-game meals, anything goes

Truth: Many players will take this opportunity to chow down on candy, chips, and soda. But this is the worst thing you can do. Directly after you exercise, your muscles are primed for fuel (and specifically, carbohydrates). You need to give them what they need. Pretzels, dried fruit, dry cereal, nuts, or bagels with jelly will do nicely. It might feel good in the moment to indulge with fries or pizza, but your body will be much happier if you put more thought into replenishing it.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll find you have more energy throughout your games and you’ll feel stronger overall. At our summer soccer camps, you’ll receive all of the physical, mental, and social benefits the game has to offer. For more information about enrolling in a soccer training program for summer, contact U.K. Elite today.