"Your body, when treated right, is an extra weapon against the opposition." Storm website contributer Ethan McCormack breaks down the seven food groups that are needed for optimum soccer nutrition and gives some top tips to maximize player performance.......
Contributed by Ethan McCormack
Nutrition is one of the most important parts of a fully functioning athlete. It fuels the body helping it perform to the best of its ability. There are seven food groups that are needed for optimum soccer nutrition.
It is important to think ahead as a soccer player. You cannot eat unhealthily all week and then have a banana 5 minutes before the game and expect top-quality results from your body.
You need to build up carbohydrates and fat about 3 days before the game. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with meals and include protein into your diet. 3 hours before your game you should consider eating a complex carbohydrate meal featuring things such as pasta and bread which will release energy into the body whilst you are playing.
The most important thing to do prior to any sporting activity is to drink plenty of water. Before, during and after a soccer game you need to replenish your fluids.
For quick energy that's good for soccer nutrition, why not try a banana. Tennis players eat a banana halfway through a match to give them added energy as well as the nourishments that come with eating fruit.
Carbohydrates are very important as they provides up to 50% of the energy requirements that the body needs during a game of soccer.
Without going into much detail about carbs, they are broken up and turned into glucose which are stored in the body and are used during exercise. Foods that are known as carbohydrates are spaghetti, bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, and crackers. These foods are very important to eat before playing soccer or even any other physical exercise.
Protein is another important food group for the body. It provides energy to the body and helps repair muscle damage, both of which are vital for good youth soccer nutrition. Examples of protein include meat, fish, eggs, nuts and dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Fat is always looked upon as a wasted component that just makes you... well, fat! But when used in the right quantity, types of fat can become very important to a soccer players body. Good fats include oily fish, nuts and seeds and vegetable oil. Fat can provide more energy for the body than carbohydrates and protein!
Try to stay away from the bad fat foods such as butter, cakes and chocolate as this will not help the body and only raise blood levels.
Vitamins come from foods such as fruit and vegetables and do many important jobs for the body.
Vitamin A (carrots and fish liver oil) allows for better eyesight.
Vitamin B (dairy products and meat) allows for a better nervous system and internal organs.
Vitamin C (citrus fruit and tomatoes) aids in protection from viruses and building a strong immune system.
Minerals help the body function. Similar to vitamins, minerals allow the body to grow, develop and generally stay healthy. Red meats are a good source of iron for example. Iron is very important to soccer nutrition. Iron is needed to help deliver red blood cells to oxygen to the rest of the body.
Want healthy bones? You need calcium another important mineral for your body! Calcium comes from dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Fibre is an important component of a healthy balanced diet. Fibre helps the digestive system and lowers blood cholesterol. Foods that contain fibre include beans, fruits, a selection of cereals, lentils and brown rice.
Last, but certainly not least, water. Water is essential to soccer nutrition and general well-being. Your body cannot last long without it. Water stops our bodies from becoming dehydrated and fatigued.
A lack of water for a soccer player can produce cramps and dizziness. Because we lose water through various means such as sweating and breathing it is important to constantly stock up on water. Plenty of water should be drunk prior to playing soccer. It is always very important to drink lots of water on match day.