You need carbohydrates to get you through the day whether it be to work out, train on the pitch, play a game or quite simply so your body receives the right nutrients to function properly throughout the day.  Without proper carbohydrates you will feel weak, irritated and tired.  Do not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet despite the bad reputation they have received over the years for losing weight and becoming lean like most professional players. 

Below are some important things to know about carbohydrates.  To begin, carbohydrates can be broken down into “simple” and “complex.”  They can be further broken down into “refined” and “unrefined.”  It is important you understand each of these so you know you what foods you putting in your body and the effects they will have on you. 

Simple carbohydrates are known as sugar.  The natural unrefined form is in fruits and most vegetables.

Complex carbohydrates are often referred to as starch or starchy foods. 

Refined carbohydrates are the result of food processing through modern day technology. They are often referred to as empty calories because the fine nutrients have been removed during the processing.  The consumption of refined carbohydrates actually results in a loss of nutrients.  Simple refined foods are found in chocolate, pastries, cakes and sugary processed breakfast cereals.  

Un-refined carbohydrates The natural unrefined form of starch can be found in foods such as oats, beans, brown rice, sweet potatoes, nuts, root vegetables and whole grained foods.  They are full of minerals and fibre.

I would not recommend cutting carbohydrates out of your diet entirely.  Instead have the complex carbohydrates as part of your break and second meal of the day.  For your next few meals throughout the day stick to simple carbohydrates. 

Remember, the most important thing is to distinguish the good from the bad carbohydrates and eliminating the bad ones.  Without the proper understanding of foods you are likely spinning your wheels wasting time and money on foods that add nothing to your nutrition and overall health.  With the proper nutrition you will not only feel better but have more energy and confidence which will reflect on the soccer field.

During a training session or game your body will burn a lot of calories and thus it is important to have the right amount of carbohydrates before you compete.  It would be best to have your carbohydrates the evening before a major competition.  Having a bowl of pasta only a couple hours before a game is leaning fine; however, it would be best to prepare your body with the proper nutrients at least 24 hours before competing.

After a training session or game you do not need to have carbohydrates right away.  However, it is important to replenish the nutrients your body lost from exercise.  Having a protein shake is great because it helps rebuild your muscles and it can be quickly digested.  Also, be sure to have fruits and vegetables as they are healthy and can be quickly digested as well.  Refrain from drinking fruit juice products and sugary products as they are often packed with sugar.     

In the morning I like to have oats as part of my breakfast. Throughout the carbs that I’ll eat will consist of whole wheat bread, sweet potato and whole wheat pasta. After a training session or exercise in the gym I like to have simple carbohydrates such as a banana or dried apricots since they are digested quickly by the body and help refuel after intense training.

Your body requires proteins, veggies, carbs and fats but like all foods there are good and bad ones for each. It is important to understand about each.

In terms of breaking up the cycle I like to have a cheat day where I eat anything I want. This allows me to focus and eat well throughout the week and leading up to games and then is a little reward for the dedication to eating properly. Changing the entire way you eat can be difficult at first so it is best to start in slowly and gradually make those changes more permanent. This way you will have long term results rather than being all motivated and quitting after only a few days. In fact, once you get started it and begin to see and feel the positive results you won’t want to stop eating properly.

What carbs do you have before a training session or game?

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