Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review - “Food Guide for Soccer: Recipes and Tips from the Pros” By Nancy Clark MS RD and Gloria Averbuch

How far does your dedication to soccer go?
Do you wish to include nutrition as a part of your personal strategy to win?
If so, this book is a must-read for you.  Written by sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD and Gloria Averbuch, in collaboration with Women’s Professional Soccer, Food Guide for Soccer was especially designed to help soccer players optimize their health and performance with good nutrition.
 Food Guide for Soccer covers every relevant aspect in soccer nutrition, including principles for daily eating, what to eat before, during and after training/competition, weight management, hydration and supplements! All of these topics are written in a simple, practical and realistic way, so you can easily apply what you read to your personal sports diet. By doing so, you will discover a whole new level of play: you’ll feel more energized, less prone to injuries and, even more important, you’ll feel more in control of your own body.

Besides teaching you great nutritional principles, Food Guide for Soccer also includes more than 40 easy-to-prepare tasty recipes for athletes. Each recipe  includes  nutrient analysis for carbs, protein, fat and calories.

Food Guide for Soccer combines the state of the art of scientific research in sports nutrition with years of both authors’ experiences teaching soccer players to win with good nutrition. Soccer athletes, parents and coaches are among those who will benefit from reading this guidebook. Enjoy!

Available at

Wishing you the best performance ever,

Diogo Ferreira, RD
Sports Nutritionist, Lisbon, Portugal
“Promoting best health and performance through nutrition”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Supplements in Soccer – part V (creatine)

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in large amounts in skeletal muscle. It can be obtained daily in small amounts (1-2 grams) by all those who include fish and meat in their diet, and some is synthesized by our own body.
Muscular stores of creatine (more specifically, creatine phosphate) are very useful during bouts of high intensity exercise (ex: 10 second sprint), because creatine promotes fast resynthesis of ATP – the chemical source of energy that we use to generate muscular work! The lower your muscular stores of creatine, the harder the ability to generate energy.
Fortunately for many athletes (including soccer players), sports scientists found around 20 years ago that muscle content of creatine  can be increased by taking creatine supplements. Since then, creatine has become a sales phenomena in the sports supplements industry and, unlike many other substances, its popularity was based not only on testimonials and commercial ads, but also in a solid scientific support, with hundreds of investigations on creatine supplementation.

When can I benefit from creatine supplementation?

As I said, muscles use creatine to generate energy during short-lived high intensity exercises. In practical terms, supplementation with this compound may be useful in the following situations:

·         Resistance training to increase lean body mass;
·         Sports with intermittent work patterns, such as soccer, where there is a demand for bursts of physical activity (ex: sprints) with relatively short recovery.

Note: Your body’s individual response to creatine supplementation will depend on your initial (“natural”) levels of your muscle creatine stores. For example, athletes who have lower initial levels tend to respond better to supplementation, and vice-versa.
Due to the inverse situation, others (20-30%) fail to respond.

Which are the recommended supplementation protocols?

There are two types of protocols scientifically proven to augment creatine muscle stores, the “rapid loading protocol” and the “slow loading protocol” (both protocols assume the utilization of creatine monohydrate).

Rapid loading protocol:

  • Initially: 20g daily, divided into 4 doses of 5g, during 3 to 5 days;
  • Maintenance: 3g/day.

Note: you must expect an acute weight gain of 0,6 – 1kg with this protocol, due to some water retention in muscles.

Slow loading protocol:

  • Initially: 3g daily, during 1 month;
  • Maintenance: 3g/day.

Practical tip: Taking your creatine along with a meal with substantial carbohydrates (ex: homemade fruit smoothie or a “gainer” shake) will likely enhance creatine uptake.

Are there any side effects related to creatine intake?

If taken at the recommended amounts, the only clinically relevant effect that you can expect is possible weight gain. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN, 2010), prolonged ingestion of creatine by athletes is unlikely to cause any impairment in health outcomes (such as kidney damage) and may even lessen the incidence of injury during training.

Should young athletes try creatine?

Health professionals generally advise against the use of creatine in athletes who are not fully grown. If you are a young athlete I advise you to first acquire the best training methods, sound nutritional practices (ex: not skipping meals, avoiding too much processed food, ingesting the right kind of food before, during and after practice sessions/competitions) and good sleep patterns (6-8h of sleep). This should be enough to see great improvements in your performance.


When added to adequate training, good sleep and a rigorous sports diet, creatine is a well-tested ergogenic supplement that could possibly enhance your sprint performance on the field, as well as other fast moves and jumps.  But no amount of creatine will compensate for a lousy diet and inadequate training program.
If you choose to experiment with creatine, don’t think about taking larger doses of creatine than recommended in guidelines, because an increased amount of intake won’t augment muscular creatine stores and may impair your health.

Recommended reading for more information: 

  • Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (
  • Food Guide for Soccer: Tips & Recipes from the Pros   (

Don’t hesitate to ask your questions!
You may leave it in the form of a blog comment or you can contact me directly through my e-mail:

Wishing you the best performance ever,

Diogo Ferreira, RD
Sports Nutritionist, Lisbon, Portugal
“Promoting best health and performance through nutrition”