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In a game of soccer your muscles are being worked hard with all of the running and exercise involved.  Protein is an extremely important nutrient that must be consumed for muscle gain to take place.  Most athletes are not aware of the different types of proteins and how they affect your body.  When you finish this blog you will have a better understand what proteins to eat, how often and what it does to your body.

What kind of proteins should you eat?  It is best to consume proteins that are lean.  These include chicken, fish, egg whites, turkey and whey protein.  Skinless chicken has less fat than chicken with skin. Red meat is a good source of protein although it contains a higher level of fat so do not consume too much of this.  With lean protein you will still get all the essential nutrients but it won’t have as much fat.  Grilling the protein is a great way of cooking it so you do not burn off the essential nutrients.  There are countless spices that you can put on your protein to add to flavor.  Stay away from pre-packaged turkey or cold cuts as they highly processed products.  Canned tuna and turkey are also great forms of lean protein.    

How much protein should I eat?  Elite soccer players range from 8-12% body fat.  If your goal is to be lean and strong it is recommended that you consume 1.5 – 2g of protein per day for every lbs you weigh.  This may sound difficult at first but with balanced meals and eating every 2-3 hours this can easily be accomplished. I like to eat a minimum of three small portions of protein throughout the day.

Do soccer players need to be strong and bulky?  All professional soccer players throughout the world use some of weights to exercise and strengthen different parts of their body.  The physical transformation of some players has become evident throughout their career.  One of the more famous soccer players would be Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal who is not only one of the fastest players in the world but also very strong.  Not only can he outrun and out-dribble his opponents but if encountered with 50/50 challenges he is strong enough to win battles and shield off several players if necessary.  Cristiano was not able to transform his body from a skinny fast player into a strong, lean build without the proper intake of protein on a daily basis combined with weight training.  

Soccer players need to be agile and fast and have quick reaction time.  Speed is the name of the game.  With that being said being a bulky body type is not recommended as this will work against you in this sport.  Nevertheless, it is still important to have good strength, a strong core and overall fitness.  With the proper nutrients and balanced portions of good proteins you will be on your way.

How often should you eat protein?  Each meal should be a balance of protein, carbohydrates and and fats.  Do not be concerned about ratios per meal.  Just be sure to consume proteins throughout the day at each meal.  Remember, soccer players and elite athletes in general will eat five to six times a day.  Be sure to consume a protein shake immediately after a training session.  Liquid protein in the form of a shake is easiest for the body to consume. 

Professional soccer players take care of their bodies and this involves eating the right foods and training properly.  They do not have the lean figures without consuming specific foods including the right proteins. Do not be fooled by thinking you can transform your body and make-up for poor eating habits by exercising more.

Most of this comes down to food preparation in the kitchen.  You do not need to speed hours preparing food but spending a little time each day you can easily make proper nutritional foods including your proteins.  Each morning or evening you can prepare your foods and snacks for the coming days. You can also prepare your meals on the weekend and save them in the refrigerator.  As the saying goes “you are what you eat.”

For a better understanding the other types of foods including healthy carbohydrates and fats blog.   Also check out the liquids blog so you know what fluids to have and stay away from.

What proteins do you eat before games?  How do they work out for you?

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