• FUEL: Food You Eat to Live
  • Nutrition needs to be a priority of an athlete’s training. What you eat daily, weekly, and monthly will affect your energy level, performance and overall health. Energy in means energy out!
  • Proper nutrition not only benefits an athlete physically, but also mentally and that’s half the battle on the field.  If the brain is not well fed, then the player will not play to the best of their ability.
  • Without the right food, a player can suffer from lethargy (feeling tired all over), having visual problems, muscle cramps, dizziness and even passing out. 


  • Start hydrating 2-3 days prior to games and tournaments.
  • Players can lose as much as 3 quarts of fluid in a fast paced game and in hot climates Body fluids are not only lost through the skin as sweat, but also through the lungs when breathing.   
  • Fluids should be replaced during half time and if possible during the game, especially on hot days, and after the game.
  • Recommend body wt/2 in oz/day
  • The liquid should be at or around normal body temperature, as cold liquids are absorbed slower.
  • Water is the Best choice
  • Carbonated, high sugar and caffeinated beverages should be avoided.
  • Pee test. Prior to game time, your urine should be clear. If it is still yellow, you need to drink more water!


  • During digestion, our body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar) and stores it in our muscles as glycogen. While exercising, glycogen turns back into glucose and is used for energy. 
  • The glycemic index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food that indicates the food's effect on a person's blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level. (How quickly a food breaks down to sugar)


  • Carbohydrates are very important and come in two different types

A. Complex (↓GI) = spaghetti, potatoes, lasagna, unsweetened cereal, rice, baked beans, peas, lentils, sweet corn and other grain products.



B. Simple (↑GI) = fruits (watermelon, cantaloupe), milk, honey and sugar

  • Soccer players need to eat a high carbohydrate diet 2-3 days prior to an event so that the muscles and liver will store the amount of glycogen needed to sustain enough energy for 90+ minute games.


Type of Training

Daily Carb Needs per Pound


(per pound body weight)

Moderate duration and low intensity

2.3 to 3.2 grams per pound

Moderate- to heavy-training load and high intensity

3 to 4.5 grams per pound

Extreme training and high-intensity races (longer than 4 to 5 hours)

> 3.6 to 5.5 grams per pound



  • Fats also provide fuel for the body and may contribute to as much as 75% energy.
  • Trained athletes use fat for energy more quickly than untrained athletes, and the amount of fat used as fuel will depend on the duration of the event and athlete’s condition.
  • Remember that fatty foods can slow digestion, so be choosy and avoid eating these foods a few hours before and after exercising.
  • Healthy sources of fat include fatty fish, nuts, nut oils, avocados and olives.


  • Protein seems to be a hot topic with athletes due to the “protein supplements” that are widely available today. It is a myth that athletes need huge daily intakes of protein.
  • Protein is a STABILIZER for sugar & hormones and jump starts metabolism
  • Exercise may increase the body’s need for protein, but a varied diet with a protein intake of 10-12 % of total calories is sufficient. 
  • Extra protein is just stored as fat and it is training that builds muscle, not protein.  Too much protein can do more harm than good.
  • Some good sources of protein are fish (Salmon), lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, and almond butter.  


Type of Training

Daily Protein Needs per Pound


(per pound body weight)

Light to moderate training

0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound



  • High-sugar: Lead to rapid rise and fall in blood sugar which results in less energy. Can draw fluid into the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to dehydration, cramping, nausea and diarrhea (examples =candy bars, desserts, etc.)  


Pre-Workout Meal:


  • Eat 1-3 hours prior to games and exercising. (Different for everyone!)

Studies have shown that when there is food in the stomach, the heart pumps large   volumes of blood to the stomach to aid in digestion.

  • Pre-game:
    • Complex CHO/Low GI= light grain products

 (whole wheat bread, cereals, bagels, rice, crackers, etc.)

  • Combination of Fruits and Vegetables rich in carbohydrates. This blend of food products will provide you with a quality source of energy and charge you up for the soccer game.

The night before a game:

  • PASTA is always a good choice (Brown Rice Pasta/gluten free)
  • Salad (very little dressing/oil & vinegar)
  • Vegetables (fresh, frozen, or steamed), Carrots/Corn
  • Rice (steamed or boiled), (Brown Rice = ↑ Fiber, ↑ Antioxidants, ↓GI)
  • Cooked dried peas, beans or lentils
  • Lean Meat 
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Fish (Fresh/not fried)
  • Sherbet (1 scoop)
  • Potatoes (not fried), Sweet Potatoes 
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn (no butter)  
  • Fruits: Apples, peaches, oranges, Grapefruits

Post Workout:


3o min to 2 hours is optimal for absorption

During a workout, your body breaks down muscle glycogen as well as muscle protein structures.

  • Replace the amino acids and glycogen lost during your workout.
  • High Glycemic Carbs/ (Simple CHO) (promote insulin release to shuttle Carbs and AA back into muscles)

(0.8 grams of carbohydrate per 2.2 pounds of body weight)

  • Protein (about 0.2 to 0.4 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight)
  • Good Fats



Immediately to 30 minutes after a game:

  1. Fruit Smoothie/ Protein Smoothie
  • Liquid meals are easily digested, quickly absorbed convenient.
  1. OJ or MILK with undenatured Whey Protein


One to Two Hours after game (small meal):


  1. Egg White & Spinach Omelet
  • Egg protein is considered to be the most readily utilizable protein with the highest biological value of all whole foods. This means that the protein in eggs is used most efficiently for growth by the body.
  • Spinach is one of the most alkaline foods, loaded with iron and phytoecdysteroids, a form of plant steroids which have recently been shown to speed human muscle growth.


  1. Cereal & Milk (almond milk/coconut milk)
  • Whole-grain cereals are now loaded with protein, carbs and other important vitamins and minerals, while milk is an easily digestible and complete source of both casein and whey protein.
  1. Salmon, Potatoes & Salad
  • Salmon is another nutritionally powerful fish packed full of protein and omega-3s.
  • Pairing salmon with a side of mashed potatoes, which are high on the GI, will balance your fish with a hearty serving of glucose-giving carbs.
  1. Tuna & Whole-Wheat Crackers
  • Tuna is low in fat but packed with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • On the flip side, crackers are a crunchy source of energizing carbs.
  1. Dried Fruit & Nuts
  • Protein from your nuts, plus you'll get a quick injection of simple carbohydrates from your dried fruits.
  1. Toasted Whole-Wheat Bagel With Almond Butter
  • Whole-wheat bagels are dense in calories and complex carbs
  • Almond butter is full of essential minerals like potassium, an electrolyte responsible for maintaining muscle contractions.
  • Although fats should generally be avoided following exercise (since they slow absorption of other nutrients), monounsaturated fats like those found in almond butter are helpful in maintaining testosterone, a hormone essential to protein synthesis.
  1. Hummus on a whole-grain pita
  • Hummus is just one example of a great alternative to meat.
  • Made from chick-peas, hummus is an excellent source of both protein and carbs.
  • Combine with a whole-grain pita for a complete post-workout punch.
  1. Chicken stir fry
  • Although brown rice is generally a healthier option than white, after a workout, you actually want to switch to foods with a high glycemic index (GI). These foods will replenish your muscles with glucose more rapidly, so try pairing your stir-fry with white rice instead of brown.
  • Add steamed veggies for additional flavor and nutrients.


Vitamins & Minerals

  • Female players sometimes need additional iron and calcium.

Iron can be found in certain foods such as lean red meats, grains that are fortified with iron, and green leafy vegetables.

  • Omega 3 (recovery, inflammation, focus)



Nutrition for the Athlete, by J. Anderson and L. Young (Colorado State University Cooperative Extension foods and nutrition specialist and professor; and L. Young, M.S., former graduate student, food science and human nutrition 12/96

Soccer: Soccer Nutrition and Mental Focus

Other Nutritional Resources:

American Dietetic Association at

American College of Sports Medicine at  


Balance Chiropractic

Dr. Nicole Ussery

1070 Montgomery Highway