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THE SOCCER NUTRITION GUIDE

Soccer is seen by many as the world's biggest sport with over 130 million players around the world! Still, the research concerning soccer nutrition has been poor. But times are changing and new researches are being conducted. New reports suggest that you should use same diet as marathon runners. At first glance it may not seem that a soccer player and a long distance runner have a lot in common, especially since the game of soccer involves fast running and bursts of energy comparing to the continuous long running that is the hallmark of marathon runners. However this connection doesn't seem to be so extraordinary when you consider what is actually happening during a soccer game. In a general soccer match you will usually run in a range from 3-7 miles. You will also sprint for about 500-1000 yards, accelerate 20-50 times and also change your direction very often. SOCCER NUTRITION AND CARBOHYDRATES As a soccer player you will never cover a marathon distance of 26 miles or more. The slow and fast running which you utilize may easily deplete your glycogen stores. To avoid that you need to eat quality carbohydrates. Research has shown that amateur soccer players only eat 1300 calories of carbohydrate/day, which is far below the recommended level of 2300 to 2900 calories. The main energy source for your muscles is the glycogen fuels. Glycogen is produced from carbohydrates you eat (apples, bananas, bread, milk etc). It is vital for your performance to have enough glycogen. If not, you will have a fatigue felling, your concentration will be poor and recovering from a match/practice will take longer time. If your glycogen fuels are low in the beginning of a game, you will most likely have few carbohydrates left in your muscles at the beginning of second half. This simply means that your performance will decrease significantly. You will for example run slower, sometimes by as much as 40-50 % compared to your first half of the match. Your cover distance will also be reduced by 25% or more with low glycogen fuels. Carbohydrate quick facts: Carbohydrates are your body's main source of energy. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches, and they are found in foods such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, pasta, milk, honey, syrups and table sugar. Sugars and starches are broken down by your body into glucose, which is used by your muscles for energy. For health and peak performance, more than half your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Sugars and starches have 4 calories per gram, while fat has 9 calories per gram. In other words, carbohydrates have less than half the calories of fat. If you regularly eat a carbohydrate-rich diet you probably have enough carbohydrate stored to fuel activity. Even so, be sure to eat a pre-competition meal for fluid and additional energy. What you eat as well as when you eat your pre-competition meal will be entirely individual. DO I NEED TO EAT FAT? Well, as soccer player you will burn many calories but the fat should still be minimized in your food because it is not an efficient provider of energy. This doesn't mean that you should

not eat fat, but try to keep it low, because in long running sports, like soccer, your body will use glycogen fuel which is found mainly in carbohydrates. WHAT ABOUT PROTEIN? As soccer player you need normally to eat 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of your body weight per day (1.4 to 1.7 g/kg/day). Protein will repair your muscles and also boost your immune system. You may also use protein as fuel before practicing sessions or match but it doesn't give you any boost of energy as carbohydrate does. Some good sources of protein include fish, chicken, milk and yogurt. WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE During your practice or matches, your body will lose a lot of water (especially in hot and warm weather kinds). To keep your body hydrated it is vital to drink water in small portions. Water Quick facts: You can survive for a month without food, but only a few days without water. Water is the most important nutrient for active people. When you sweat, you lose water, which must be replaced. Drink fluids before, during, and after workouts Water is a fine choice for most workouts. However; during continuous workouts of greater than 90 minutes, your body may benefit from a sports drink Sports drinks have two very important ingredients - electrolytes and carbohydrates Sports drinks replace electrolytes lost through sweat during workouts lasting several hours Carbohydrates in sports drinks provide extra energy. The most effective sports drinks contain 15 to 18 grams of carbohydrate in every 8 ounces of fluid SOCCER NUTRITION AND SPORTS DRINKS Sports drinks usually claim to boost your performance but they are just full of fast carbohydrates that will just increase your blood sugar for a while. This will not increase your performance to some high level. My advice is to plan your meals and only consume sports drinks when you really don't have time to eat. WHEN TO EAT? It is recommended to eat meals containing at least 700 carbohydrates about 3-4 hours before the match start. After the end of match you should attempt to consume enough carbohydrate to replace all the fluid you have lost during the match. SCORE WITH VITAMINS AND MINERALS Eating a varied diet will give you all the vitamins and minerals you need for health and peak performance. Exceptions include active people who follow strict vegetarian diets, avoid an entire group of foods, or eat less than 1800 calories a day. If you fall into any of these categories, a multivitamin and mineral pill may provide the vitamins and minerals missing in your diet. Taking large doses of vitamins and minerals will not help your performance and may be bad for your health. Vitamins and minerals do not supply the body with energy and, therefore are not a substitute for carbohydrates.

POPEYE AND ALL THAT SPINACH Iron supplies working muscles with oxygen. If your iron level is low, you may tire easily and not have enough stamina for activity. The best sources of iron are animal products, but plant foods such as fortified breads, cereals, beans and green leafy vegetables also contain iron. Iron supplements may have side effects, so take them only if your doctor tells you to. NO BONES ABOUT IT, YOU NEED CALCIUM EVERYDAY Many people do not get enough of the calcium needed for strong bones and proper muscle function. Lack of calcium can contribute to stress fractures and the bone disease, osteoporosis. The best sources of calcium are dairy products, but many other foods such as salmon with bones, sardines, collard greens, and okra also contain calcium. Additionally, some brands of bread, tofu, and orange juice are fortified with calcium. A WEIGHTY MATTER Your calorie needs depend on your age, body size, sport and training program. The best way to make sure you are not getting too many or too few calories is to check your weight from time to time If you're keeping within your ideal weight range, you're probably getting the right amount of calories FLEXING YOUR OPTIONS TO BUILD BIGGER MUSCLES It is a myth that eating lots of protein and/or taking protein supplements and exercising vigorously will definitely turn you into a big, muscular person. Building muscle depends on your genes, how hard you train, and whether you get enough calories The average American diet has more than enough protein for muscle building. Extra protein is eliminated from the body or stored as fat.

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