If you want to give yourself a competitive edge as a soccer player, fueling your body with the proper nutrients is important. But, there are many foods that can also slow you down. So, what should you eat before a soccer game? This is what we’ll address in this article.
This guide will help you understand what foods you should put in your body…and when.
Key Takeaways From This Article:
- Eating carbohydrates hours before games will give your body the fuel it needs but not all carbs are created the same!
- Prior to the game, you should try to eat 300-500 calories.
- Try to avoid spicy foods, deep-fried meals, and soda before games. I think you know this 😉
You want to be at your best during a soccer game. The most important thing you can do is eat well before it. Growing up, I thought I could get away with eating anything. Boy, was I wrong! I quickly learned to eat right so I wasn’t slow and tired after 10 minutes.
This topic is very important and one that should be shared with players, parents, and coaches!
Why Is Eating Healthy Important?
Eating before a soccer match is essential in order to have the maximum energy and endurance necessary to perform at one’s best level.
Fueling up on the right foods helps boost your performance on the field. Whether you are playing a long tournament or having a normal training session, you want to feed that engine of yours.
Eating properly before any sport can increase strength, stamina, and alertness while reducing fatigue.
By eating meals high in carbohydrates and other energy sources like fruits and nuts, athletes can keep themselves energized for hours, so they can play their ceiling and stay ahead of their competitors.
“Good nutrition is at the core of my success” – Cristiano Ronaldo (more soccer quotes)
Foods That Are Carbohydrate-Rich
You should eat lots of complex carbohydrates before your game to give you the energy you need.
It can be hard to figure out where all of these carbs are coming from. Although whole-grain bread is often available and a practical alternative, it shouldn’t be your only choice.
Here are some meals high in complex carbohydrates:
- Garbanzo beans
- Brown rice
- Black beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
Best Foods to Eat Before a Game (by hour)
3 Hours Before a Game
I suggest having your pre-game meal about three hours before a soccer game. The ideal number of calories you should consume during this meal is somewhere between 300 and 500.
The pregame food should be high in carbs, low in fat, low in fiber, and high in protein. An example would be a small grilled chicken breast served with rice and some veggies. YUM!
A quicker alternative would be a rice cake with a small amount of peanut butter spread on it. Also, good!
2 Hours Before a Game
You may only have time to have your pre-game meal two hours before kickoff. There is a possibility that your digesting time may be shortened in this situation so plan accordingly.
It is still recommended that you eat a sufficient amount of carbs, along with some protein and fiber.
In this case, you may need to cut down on your portions just a bit. Make sure you’re eating something that you can digest rapidly.
A banana with some oatmeal is a good choice for a meal to consume two hours prior to the game.
1 Hour Before a Game
You shouldn’t eat a big meal the hour before kickoff. However, one hour before a soccer match might be a good time for a quick snack.
Pick a carb-rich food that will help you refuel without making you feel sluggish.
Here are a few ideas for pregame snacks that you may enjoy an hour before your game:
- Snack bars made of various kinds of cereal or mixed nuts
- Fruits – blueberries, banana, oranges
- A yogurt (unless you’re lactose intolerant)
- Jelly on toast
Here’s a list of some healthy and tasty snack options from Amazon!
What Should a Soccer Player Avoid Eating Before a Game?
Young and experienced should have a mental list of things to avoid eating before a game. Some foods are obvious while others may be sneaky choices you’ll want to avoid.
The high-fat, deep-fried meals
Foods high in fat are to blame for the digestive issues that players experience. They may include bloating in the stomach, indigestion, sleepiness, and a lack of focus when playing. These types of foods include french fries, pizza, fried chicken, and chips.
Spicy foods can irritate the stomach lining, leading to cramps, especially during physical activity. This could be a Spicy Chicken sandwich from McDonalds, Spicy Cheetohs, and Cajan chicken wings. If this all sounds bad before running then you know!
Stimulants or carbonated beverages
Ready-to-eat meals, coffee, energy drinks, and carbonated beverages can be harmful to anyone’s health no matter if you’re playing a sport or not.
For young athletes, they reduce physical fitness and brain fog, limiting players’ capacity to handle and control the ball.
What to Eat During a Game (If You Need To)
Ideally, you should not need to eat during a soccer game. However, if you feel like you need a boost of energy, there are some options that can help you without causing stomach discomfort.
If you feel like you need to eat something during the game, opt for easily digestible, energy-boosting foods. Some options include:
- Bananas: Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates and potassium, which can help prevent cramping.
- Energy gels or chews: Energy gels or chews are designed to provide a quick source of energy and are easily digestible.
- Sports drinks or gels: Sports drinks or gels can provide a quick source of carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate!
This article focuses on food but please don’t lose sight of hydrating your body.
Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining your energy levels and preventing cramps during a soccer game. Your body loses a lot of fluids through sweating, and you need to replace those fluids to stay hydrated.
Drinking water, sports drinks, or coconut water before a game can help you stay hydrated and improve your performance.
I’m a big advocate for making healthy choices. At the same time, we are all busy so eating healthy isn’t always doable. Let’s cut each other a break.
By eating healthier foods and drinks, your body is able to replenish itself and maximize its muscle fibers. Additionally, a healthier lifestyle leads to more mental clarity. The combination of a strong body and mind can do wonders for soccer players. The rigorous competition and endless amount of running can become an advantage to players who make it a lifestyle.
The foods we discussed are a great start. We recommend maintaining the habit before games and training sessions but also throughout the week. Leave one day to cheat a bit but keep in mind the bigger picture…productivity and longevity!