Nutrition Myths Among Soccer Players
There are more myths
that coaches, players and parents may be following, but below four of
the more common myths are dispelled. By following the nutritional
guidelines below, players, coaches and teams can put themselves in an
advantageous position before the match starts.
Myth 1: Game performance is not affected by what you eat.
every study on athletic performance for both team and individual sports
shows that a diet rich in carbohydrates improves running performance.
However, nutritional research from the 1970s to present day still show
that soccer players choose a diet that is approximately 40 percent
carbohydrates, 40 percent fat and 20 percent protein.
What is discouraging
is that in the very early 70s, the Swedes conducted a study that showed
soccer players with low muscle fuel (glycogen) walk about 50 percent of
the game. Even 30 years later, a study showed that more than half of a
national team in the 1994 FIFA World Cup thought food had nothing to do
with their performance. The bottom line is that players eat what is put
in front of them.
carbohydrates an athlete eats, the more endurance he or she will have.
This means that when the end of the game approaches, the player will be
able to run faster and longer if he or she consumed the proper amount of
Myth 2: What you eat after the game does not matter.
At games and
tournaments around the country, players will sometimes eat the worst
post game snacks possible including soda, sweet drinks in soft
packaging, potato chips, candy bars and fries. Everyone who has ever
been to a soccer field on a weekend has seen this.
Muscles are most
ready to receive a fresh supply of fuel during the first hour or two
directly following exercise. The smart coaches and parents supply food
that will start refilling muscles with carbohydrates at just that time.
A proper supply of
carbohydrates is needed. It can come from a carbohydrate replenishment
drink or other foods like bagels with jelly, pretzels, raisins or other
dried fruit. This is even more critical between tournament games when
the time between games is even shorter.
Myth 3: A diet is good as long as an athlete gets enough
every survey of the athletic diet shows that players get all the protein
they need from food, there is a problem. The vast majority of protein is
consumed in conjunction with fat.
Marbled meat, ground
beef, and fried chicken all are examples of protein that is combined
with lots of fat. Red meat should be trimmed of fat, and ground beef
should be very lean. Chicken should have the skin removed before
One place protein
isnít commonly found is the immediate post-exercise meal. A little
protein helps in storing new fuel in the muscles faster than when there
is no protein. Players can try to figure out a protein source after the
game or drink a carbohydrate replenishment drink that contains protein.
Myth 4: Your body is the best indicator of when to drink; Mother Nature
For most mammals, it is
OK not to drink until thirsty. However, the thirst mechanism of humans
operates differently than the average mammal. In fact, the human thirst
mechanism doesnít even kick in until a person has lost about two percent
of body weight from sweating. At this level, a decrease in performance
begins to become evident.
Players should drink
before starting the game, every 15-20 minutes during play if possible,
and at halftime. Make sure the team has drink bottles along both
sidelines and in the goals so players have easy access to fluids during
stoppages of play. Donít forget that playing in the cold is also
dehydrating, so drinking fluids is just as important in cold weather.
Overall, it is
important for the well-rounded player to keep an eye on what they eat
and drink in order to get results on the field.