There are several different food groups which will be looked at before recommendations on what a young soccer player should eat with a big match coming up.
There are 7 important food groups needed for optimum soccer nutrition. They are:
Carbohydrates are very important and provide up to 50% of the energy requirement the body needs during a soccer game.
Without going into too much science the carbs are broken up, turned into glucose (stored by the body) and used during exercise.
Foods that are considered complex carbohydrates can be found in spaghetti, bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and crackers.
Protein is another important food group for the body. It provides energy to the body and helps repair muscle damage... both of which are vital for good youth soccer nutrition. Examples of protein include meat, fish, eggs, nuts and dairy products such as milk and cheese.
Fat is always looked upon as a wasted component that just makes you... well, fat! But when used in the right quantity and types fat becomes very important to a soccer players body. Good fats include oily fish, nuts and seeds and vegetable oil. Fat can provide more energy for the body than carbohydrates and protein!
Try to stay away from the bad fat foods such as butter, cakes and biscuits as this will not help the body and only raise blood levels.
Some foods don't provide a large amount of energy but instead keep your body healthy and working correctly.... vital to anyone's soccer nutrition.
Vitamins come from foods such as fruit and vegetables and do many important jobs for the body.
Vitamin A (carrots and fish liver oil) allows for better eye-sight.
Vitamin B (dairy products and meat) allows for a better nervous system and internal organs.
Vitamin C (citrus fruit and tomatoes) aids in protection from viruses and building a strong immune system.
When you think of minerals you might think of the things in the Earth. But some small amounts of minerals can help the body function. Similar to vitamins, minerals allow the body to grow, develop and generally stay healthy. Red meats are a good source of iron for example. Iron is very important to soccer nutrition. Iron is needed to help deliver red blood cells deliver oxygen to the rest of the body.
Want healthy bones? You need calcium... another important mineral for your body! Calcium comes from dairy products such as milk and cheese.
There are other minerals but you should naturally digest those into your body by generally eating a wide range of healthy foods.
Fibre is an important component of a healthy balanced diet. Fibre helps the digestive system and lowers blood cholesterol. Foods that contain fibre include beans, fruits, a selection of cereals, lentils and brown rice.
The final food group to discuss is the most important and its not even an item of food. Water is essential to soccer nutrition and general well-being. Your body cannot last long without it. Water stops our bodies from becoming dehydrated and fatigued.
A lack of water for a soccer player can produce cramps and dizziness. Because we lose water through various means such as sweating and breathing it is important to constantly stock up on water. Plenty of water should be drunk prior to playing soccer.
We have now looked at what food groups there are and how they affect our bodies in different ways. If your still a bit unsure as to what a good pre-game meal could be... just take a look below.
It is important to think ahead as a soccer player. You cannot eat unhealthily all week and then have a banana 5 minutes before the game and expect top-quality results from your body. Your body, when treated right, is an extra weapon against the opposition.
Your body needs a build up of carbohydrates and fat about 3 days before the game. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables with meals and include protein into your diet. 3 hours before your game you should consider eating a complex carbohydrate meal such as pasta and bread which will release energy into the body whilst you are playing.
The most important thing to do prior to any sporting activity is to drink plenty of water. Before, during and after a soccer game you need to replenish your fluids.
For quick energy that's good for soccer nutrition why not try a banana. Tennis players eat a banana half way through a match to give them added energy as well as the nourishments that come with eating fruit.
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