With the winter sport season recently commencing I thought I’d share some nutritional tips for one of our region’s most popular games.

Soccer is a team based sport played in two 45 minute halves, with matches that comprise of both aerobic and anaerobic activity.

Depending on the level of competition training can be physically demanding with players required to switch between walking, jogging, running and sprinting.  In elite level games players can cover around 10km, accelerate 40-60 times, and change direction frequently.  If not properly managed these activity patterns can substantially reduce muscle energy stores leading to early fatigue.

Soccer players will aim to achieve a percentage body fat between 10-12% in males and 18-24% in females.  As with many field sports this figure will vary dependant on position played and competition level.  Studies suggest that those playing at a more social level or in less mobile positions should consume 5-7g/kg of body weight in carbohydrate during training and competition periods.

It is generally recommended that a pre-game meal should focus on carbohydrate consumption with approximately 3-4g/kg of bodyweight consumed.  Food choices should include lower fibre options to minimise digestive discomfort.  Suitable meal options could include a chicken and salad sandwich, a bowl of muesli with yoghurt and berries, or a lean meat stir fry.

Protein is also important for soccer players in allowing adequate recovery.  Approximately 1.2-1.4g/kg of body weight during training days will cater for post-muscular recovery.  Sources of protein include lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, whole grains and dairy.

Fluid requirements during matches can be considerable due to the high intensity of some matches.  Dehydration can negatively affect endurance, speed, and skill execution.  Hydration can be retained with fluid consumption of 240-300ml each hour prior to training and 480ml-960ml one hour before training.  Throughout training 120-180ml of fluid should be consumed for every 15-20 minutes of exercise.

During play energy levels can be maintained by consuming energy drinks and sports bars.  Replacing fuel stores and staying hydrated will also have positive implications on motor skill performance.

Post-match nutrition should focus on both replenishing energy stores and muscle recovery.  A dairy based fruit smoothie is a great option.   Rehydration via water and sports drinks is also advised.

*Any athlete wishing to improve sporting performance should consult their coach, dietician or GP

Muscle Recovery Shake

PREP 5 mins
SERVES 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 200ml Almond Milk
  • ½ Banana
  • 1 Tbsp Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp Nut Butter
  • ½ Tsp Macca Powder
  • 1 Tsp Chia Seeds
  • 4 Ice Cubes

METHOD

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Pour into your favourite glass and enjoy

TIP

  • Use a frozen banana for an even more refreshing smoothie!

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