Sunday, October 16, 2011

Everyday eating - General guidelines for soccer players

I'm in high school and am just beginning a soccer program. I have decent nutritional habits, but what I want to know is now that I'm exercising more, should I change my eating habits? And if I do, what types of foods should I emphasize and what should I eat less of?

Athletic or not, you want to follow the government guidelines ( for a diet based on:

- whole grains, fruits, and vegetables;
- protein as an accompaniment to those carbohydrte-rich foods;
- a little bit of healthful fat in each meal.

By enjoying a variety of foods, you’ll consume:

- carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains) to fuel your muscles;
- lean protein (including fish, chicken, beans, lentils, lowfat milk and yogurt) to build and repair your muscles;
- healthful fats (nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, salmon, avocado) to fight inflammation from the tiny injuries that occur when you train.

To organize your sports diet, think of yourself as having four food buckets:

1. Breakfast bucket;
2. Lunch bucket;
3. Second lunch bucket (some people call this a snack)
4. Dinner bucket.

You want to evenly-fill each bucket with at least three to four different kinds of foods, such as:

Breakfast: cereal, milk, berries, slivered almonds;
Lunch: whole wheat bread, peanut butter, banana, decaf latte;
Lunch #2: pita, hummus, baby carrots, Greek yogurt;
Dinner: chicken, rice, salad/shredded lowfat cheese/olive oil.

For more detailed information, please refer to “Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros” by myself and co-author Gloria Averbuch. It is available at

Have fun and enjoy your high energy!
Nancy Clark MS RD

Want to be on a winning team?

Team sports are fun. Whether you are a member of a soccer team, running club, or  pick-up basketball team, the culture of team sports can easily lead to post-game food feasts, beer fests, and a suboptimal sports diet. Sure, part of team fun is food, but think twice and make sure you celebrate with functional foods that will improve team performance!
Research suggests when a team enjoys a carbohydrate-based sports diet that replenishes depleted muscle glycogen stores, the athletes perform better. For example, a motion-analysis study with ice hockey players indicates the better-fueled players with a higher carb intake were able to skate faster and more distance during the final period of the game.
Whether at home or on the road, hungry soccer players who have easy-access to pre-planned, balanced sports meals to eat before, during and after games will recover faster, rehydrate better, and function better. They can outperform hungry athletes fending for themselves who end up eating hit-or-miss convenience foods.

You need not be the team that trains hard but “forgets” to fuel appropriately. To find a sports dietitian to work with your team, use the referral network at You and your teammates will always wins with good nutrition!

Nancy Clark RD and Gloria Averbuch
Authors, Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros

PS. For recipes for winning sports nutrition foods you can prepare for your post-game parties, refer to Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros (