In a game such as soccer, when the deciding factor in a game can be an inch here, or a cleat there, something as vital as nutrition should not be overlooked, nor should it be ignored. On the field, players are looking for any advantage they can
find. By eating a proper diet, players can gain advantages off the field that will translate to better on-field performance.
Eating a healthy diet daily lays the foundation for an athlete’s training and performance. Players need to eat a balanced diet every day, from every food group though due to the prolonged and vigorous nature of the sport, carbohydrates are a soccer player’s main fuel.
Carbohydrates: The body stores carbohydrates in the muscles as glycogen, but these stores are limited and need to be constantly replenished. Small meals and snacks throughout the day can help keep energy levels high. Glycogen depletion, as mentioned in hydration, can lead to fatigue, both physical and mental, and performance may be compromised as players lose the fuel they need to think and make good decisions on the field.
Protein: To build strength you need high-quality protein in small amounts throughout the day. Before and after strength training, athletes must ensure that they consume optimal levels of protein and essential amino acids to provide protein for synthesis and muscle repair directly after exercise, and during times of rest and recovery. Protein is essential for gaining muscle and strengthening your body. fish, lean meats, eggs, tofu, nonfat milk, yogurt, nonfat cottage cheese, protein supplements etc.
The better the body is hydrated, the better an athletes will be able to keep their performance
at a high level and the longer it will take fatigue to settle in.
Something to consider: Thirst does NOT equal dehydration. Avoid starting your workouts thirsty! Remember that thirst is unreliable to determine fluid needs. Therefore, athletes must drink before feeling thirsty. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink then the chances are you’re already dehydrated and your performance will suffer significantly.
Sports drinks vs. Water: Because sports drinks have carbohydrates not found in plain water, they slow the onset of muscle fatigue through the sparing of muscle glycogen, by increasing the body's blood glucose (sugar) level. Restoring the body's glycogen reserves is something your body does naturally over time, but during heavy exercise like a soccer match, there isn't enough time to do it without some help. Sports drinks can provide that extra input of carbohydrates, necessary to refuel the process. When consuming sports drinks, several issues should be taken into consideration.
• High sugar content can slow fluid absorption, so make sure it is not too sweet. No sodas, juices or sugary sports drink
• Cold water absorbs faster than room temperature water when exercising.
• Choose a sports drink that is defined as Isotonic - as these drinks will have the same sugar and electrolyte content levels as your body's own natural fluids. Studies suggest that this type of fluid will be absorbed more rapidly than plain water, while giving your body the carbs it craves for peak performance.