In order to be fit the new season, it is important to plan your diet carefully and to make sure the plan is put into practice. If you need to lose weight (carrying too much body fat can affect your performance) you should reduce the amount of fat in your diet or foods that lead to fat. However, do not cut out fats completely. Providing enough of the right sort of fuel for exercise (carbohydrate) will help to get the most out of training sessions and help to prevent fatigue toward the end of the match.
Your diet needs to contain enough protein as well all the essential vitamins and nutrients. Everyone’s goals are different and as such there are dozens of diets out there for each person. No matter the diet it is important to have a balanced diet. One cannot entirely remove carbohydrates from their body. However, there are specific portions and time of day to each the different types of foods.
A healthy nutrition and diet is to each in moderations throughout the deal rather than fewer and larger meals. Eating six smaller meals (morning, mid-morning, lunch, mid afternoon, dinner, evening or every two hours) per day is recommended. Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day in order to prepare your body for a long day ahead.
By the evening, meals should be small because you will go to sleep and the food will simply sit in your stomach and have slower digestion. You do not want a full stomach while sleeping because you’ll be inactive and your body won’t be able to break down the nutrients as well. Stay away from sugars and fatty foods. We do not recommend any form of fast foods and sugary beverages. Also do not consume alcoholic beverage prior to or immediately after a training session or game.
See our list of healthy foods that should be combined for a balanced diet below.
Protein: Proteins are needed for growth and repair of the body, particularly muscle tissue. Eat lean meet as it has the least amount of fat. These include lean ham and picnic shoulder (shoulder of the pig), fish, tuna, egg whites, chicken, turkey, venison (deer meat) and high quality protein shakes.
Carbohydrates: Your body burns carbohydrates when you exercise and it is important to receive a proper amount of carbohydrates throughout the day. Front-loading carbs which means eat more in the beginning of the day and gradually reduce the quantity of carbs throughout the day. This way your body will receive a required amount and you will gradually burn them off throughout the day. Some examples of healthy carbohydrates include whole-grained oatmeal, whole-grain bread, whole-grained pasta, brown rice, baked beans and sweet potatoes.
Vegetables & Fruit: When you are hungry these are great foods to snack on. You can never go wrong with eating too many green vegetables. Examples of vegetables and fruit include celery, broccoli, salad, green peppers, bananas, oranges, dried apricots and cauliflower.
Refueling: Your body needs to refuel after a training session or game. Proper refueling will not happen on its own. Immediately after a training session we recommend whey protein as it will be consumed by your body the fastest and help rebuild muscles that have been worked. Fruit will also be easily digested by your body after a workout.
I mentioned the importance of eating a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables. Now it is important to discuss what liquids are best to consume.
Water: there have been countless studies about the quantity of water required for each individual. Whether you’re a soccer player or not drinking a proper amount of water is essential. Simply carry a 500ml or litre water bottle around with you and drink a little every 5-10 minutes. This ensures the cells in your body are properly energized and that you will not be dehydrated. It also ensures your body will properly replace the nutrients it lost from your training or game earlier in the day. Be sure to properly hydrate earlier in the day so you are not feeling bloated with water. We recommend drinking a few litres of water throughout the day prior to training and a 1-2 litres of water after a training or game session. Most other fruit juices, energy drinks are loaded with sugars and other products that not essential for you. Drinking this much water may sound too much but it is important to properly hydrate. In fact with a good training session you will be very thirsty.
Once I took the time to learn about proper nutrition I was able to drop my body fat from 13% to 6%. I put on a few pounds of muscle through weight training and worked hard at my interval training to improve my cardio. When I look back, I was often in good shape but realized I had to train smarter instead of always harder into order to make significant improvements. I am glad I did!
Proper nutrition leading up to training sessions and games will help prepare you for your best. There is no coincidence that the best athletes take care of their body not only through training sessions but through proper nutrition and dieting. Take the analogy of a car where with the proper fuel, proper maintenance and up-keeping the vehicle will be able to function at its best. The human body is no different. We must eat the right quantities and balance of each food group. Remember not to be full but not to be hungry. Eating every 2-3 hours or 5-6 times per day is best. I recommend not eating 3 hours before games except for any light foods. Following the above nutrition guidelines will help prepare you so that when game time comes you’ll be full of energy and ready to go!
What kinds of balanced meals do you have before training sessions and games?