A Footballer’s Guide to the Perfect Meal Before a Match: Football training involves more than just what happens during practice or in the gym. What teenage soccer players eat before and after a match can impact how well they perform and their potential for improvement. So, what should a soccer player eat before a match to perform their best?
The Different Types of Foods
Before a soccer match, players eat foods like toast, fruit, dried fruit, dates, bananas, pasta, cereal, potatoes, fruit sandwiches, oatmeal, or similar options. These foods provide the energy needed for the game.
For pre-game snacks or meals, it’s essential to focus on carbohydrates and fluids, with a moderate amount of protein. This helps ensure players have the right fuel for their bodies. Teens and their parents should establish healthy habits to support the active lifestyle of soccer players. Good nutrition not only aids in preventing injuries but also contributes to achieving the best performance on the field.
To get all the details about what football players should eat before a game, continue reading. And don’t forget to grab my free meal plan designed specifically for football players!
Why Is It Important to Eat Before a Football Match?
Every teenage soccer player is unique, but many follow this eating plan:
- 3-4 Hours Before the Game: Have a pre-game meal that includes carbohydrates, fluids for hydration, and maybe some protein to prevent hunger.
- 1 to 2 Hours Before the Match: Eat a snack that’s high in carbohydrates, low in fat and fiber. This makes it easy to digest and provides additional energy for the game.
Footballer’s Best Meal Before the Match
Carbohydrates are like the fuel that powers your muscles and gives you the energy to play soccer. Choosing high-quality carbohydrates, rather than just sugary foods, ensures that your body gets the right fuel to support your athletic performance. Here’s what you can eat to load up on carbohydrates before a game:
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruits
- Dairy products
For teenage soccer players, about 45-65% of their total calories should come from these high-quality carbohydrates. It’s a good idea to include carbohydrates in every meal and snack. Here’s a breakdown of how much carbohydrates you should aim for at different times:
- Before Activity: 75 to 100 grams of carbohydrates.
- During Activity: 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates (especially for intense exercises lasting more than an hour).
- After Activity: 60 to 90 grams of carbohydrates.
While carbohydrates are essential throughout training and play, they play a crucial role before the activity starts, helping your body perform at its best.
The Power of Hydration: A Footballer’s Meal
Before a soccer match, the best drink is water. Save sports and electrolyte drinks for use during or after the game, especially if you’re losing a lot of fluids.
Water helps your body get ready for activity and replaces the fluids lost through sweat. It also lowers the risk of injury and keeps you in top shape during the match.
Here’s a handy tip: aim to drink enough fluids so that your weight after the game is within 1 kilogram of your weight before the match. If you don’t weigh yourself before and after exercise, follow these tips to stay well hydrated.
Start proper hydration the day before a big match. About 80% of your hydration should come from water, and the remaining 20% from the food you eat. Keep that water flowing!
The Benefits of Proteins: A Footballer’s Perspective
For young football players, about 10-35% of the calories they eat should come from protein. Another way to look at it is around 0.45-0.6 grams of protein for every kilogram they weigh. To figure out the exact amount, it’s best to consult a sports nutrition expert.
Protein is not just important for recovery after a game; it’s also crucial before playing. Eating too much protein can slow down digestion, but the right amount can help keep a football player energized during the game. Protein is essential for signaling when you’re hungry, and it helps you feel full while playing.
It’s important to know that your body can’t save extra protein for later use. The key is to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day, including in every meal and snack. Aim for about 15 to 30 grams of protein in each meal or snack.
What Are the Best Meal Ideas for a Footballer Before a Match?
Athletes, like football players, should eat well before a game to perform their best. Here are three meal ideas for footballers before a match:
1. Grilled Chicken with Vegetables and Brown Rice:
Ingredients: Lean grilled chicken for protein, veggies like broccoli, carrots, and green beans for vitamins, and brown rice for lasting energy.
Why: Chicken gives high-quality protein, veggies provide vitamins, and brown rice has carbs for energy.
2. Wholemeal Pasta with Tomato and Vegetable Sauce:
Ingredients: Wholemeal pasta for carbs, tomato sauce for nutrients, and veggies like spinach, peppers, and mushrooms for extra vitamins.
Why: Wholemeal pasta gives energy, tomato sauce has nutrients, and veggies add vitamins and minerals.
3. Grilled Salmon with Quinoa and Steamed Vegetables:
Ingredients: Salmon for omega-3 and protein, quinoa for complex carbs, and steamed veggies for a balance of nutrients.
Why: Salmon has healthy fats and protein, quinoa provides carbs, and veggies add more nutrients.
Remember, everyone’s nutritional needs are different. It’s a good idea to talk to a nutrition pro or dietitian to get personalized advice based on your specific needs and activity level.