I recently had the pleasure of listening to a talk by exercise physiologist John Ivy, PhD of the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Ivy has done a lot of sports nutrition research. Here are a few of his key points that might be of interest to soccer players:
• During exercise, athletes need water, carbohydrate, electrolytes, and protein. While the need for protein during exercise can be debated, consuming protein is not detrimental. Adding protein to a sports drink can lower markers of muscle damage, reduce post exercise muscle soreness and enhance recovery.
• Consuming protein before and after resistance exercise optimizes gains in muscle mass and power.
• Protein consumed during exercise helps retain water. This is one reason why chocolate milk is a good pre-exercise drink; it gets protein into your system for use during or after exercise.
• Athletes who are serious about building muscle should eat consistently throughout the day, to provide a steady infusion of carbohydrates and protein to the muscles.
• Eating breakfast is important to take the body out of a catabolic state that breaks down protein.
• Anabolic (muscle-building) activity is highest at night, so consuming a small (100-calorie) high protein snack (such as some turkey or cottage cheese) before going to bed can reduce cortisol (breaks down muscle), enhance availability of amino acids throughout the night, and protect lean body mass.
Eat wisely and feel great!
Nancy Clark and Gloria Averbuch
Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros