Here's a cookbook approach to eating on game day. High performance on the field requires high quality fuel and attention to detail. Maximize your performance by eating right.
Before Game Day
Eat healthy. Simple. Make sure you eat good quality, healthy food. If you need a refresher, you can get it here: Nutrition for the Soccer Athlete.
Breakfast on Game Day
As we sleep, our body uses up water and carbs as part of normal metabolic activity. In other words, it uses up the fuel you've stored in your tank. Therefore, it's important to make sure the tank was full to begin with, AND to re-fuel what was used up during the night.
So game day nutrition is focused on: intake of primarily complex carbs and water. We've talked about hydrating for competition, so here we'll focus on what to eat.
Can I make it any more clear? Bad. Not gonna go there are you? Don't eat that stuff for breakfast.
If you can, try to eat 3 or 4 hours before your game. Of course, if your game is at 8:00AM, that's gonna be hard to do, so make sure you ate the right kind of stuff the night before.
Don't eat anything in the hour before the game. Simple carbs will do the whole drive-a-stake-through-your-performance thing, and complex carbs won't have time to digest, consequently, they'll slosh around your stomach during the game.
Right Before and During the Game
There is a time and place for simple carbs, and that's immediately before or during the game. If you eat a SMALL, emphasis on small, amount of simple carbs in the few minutes before the opening whistle, the work you're doing will reduce the insulin flood, and may actually be helpful in fueling your performance. The usual suspects work here: Goo, a slug of watered down Gatorade, a quarter of a PB&J sandwich, a few jelly beans. Same thing at half time.
After the Game
After the game, it's really important to restore glycogen in your muscles. Carbohydrates are most readily absorbed into the muscles right after exercise. Way more than at any other time.
Particularly if you're at a tournament and you have to play a second game later in the day or the next day, that hour right after the game finishes is golden. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunity and re-fuel. That means a balance of carbs, protein, and water.
A great soccer performance = hard work at practice + good nutrition and hydration + mental preparation + good equipment. Pay attention to what you eat. It matters.
More on Health-Fitness
Hydrating for Competition
Zackery Lystedt Law
Nutrition for the Soccer Athlete
Preventing ACL Injury
The Importance of Hydration
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