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A successful soccer player must possess skill, endurance, power, speed, agility, flexibility and mental alertness. A sound nutrition plan provides sufficient energy and fluids to power a player throughout 90 minutes of play, maximize performance, minimize fatigue-related injuries and minimize potential for dehydration. In addition to following a good plan during preseason training and competition, it is essential to have a good post-game nutrition and hydration program to maximize rehydration and muscle recovery.

Pre-Season Diet Plan

  • Begin the training and competition diet two weeks prior to soccer tryouts. This will enhance physical performance and provide an advantage to making the team and a starting position.
  • Eat enough calories to prevent weight loss or to gain weight if this is the goal. Estimate the number of calories needed per day by multiplying your weight in pounds by 20 to 27. This is only an estimate and can be adjusted up or down depending on your desired results.
  • Select 50 percent of your estimated calories from foods that are a good source of complex carbohydrates, such as bread, English muffins, bagels, cereal, spaghetti, macaroni, brown or white rice, sweet or white potatoes, beans, peas, lentils and corn.
  • Consume three fruit servings, two and a half cups of vegetables and three cups of yogurt or milk every day.
  • Eat 6 to 10 oz. of lean meat every day. A lean meat includes low-fat cottage cheese, non-breaded chicken breast, pork tenderloin, or beef with very little marbling and the visible fat trimmed.
  • Avoid all visible fat, including margarine, butter, oil, salad dressing, vegetable and fruit dips, and gravies and sauces. Exceptions would be fat-free spreads, dips, sauces and salad dressings.
  • Drink plenty of non-carbonated and calorie-free fluids. A goal for fluid would be about one cup or 8 oz. for every 20 lb. of body weight. If you weigh 160 lb., your minimum would be eight cups per day.

After Training and Competition

  • Replace fluids immediately after training and competition. Begin with 8 to 12 oz. of water or sports beverage specifically designed for fluid and electrolyte replacement.
  • Drink 8 to 12 oz. of fruit juice within 30 minutes after training or competition. This will give you the fuel needed to speed up muscle glycogen recovery.
  • Eat a small high-carbohydrate snack with protein within one to two hours after competition. An example would be a meat sandwich, or crackers and low-fat cheese, or cereal with low-fat milk or yogurt.

Day of Competition

  • Drink sips of water or sports beverage whenever possible. Taking fluids during halftime and breaks in play will be critical to avoid injury from fatigue and dehydration. During training is when you should experiment with the right amount of fluid for you. Competition is not the time to experiment.
  • Begin the day by eating light. Eat foods like cereal with milk or yogurt, fruits and fruit juices. Continue through the day with foods like crackers, pretzels, watermelon, yogurt with fruit, meal replacement beverages or bars. Save the heavier meal for the end of the day, after competition.
  • Avoid high-fat foods on competition days. Fat will reduce your quickness and agility. Any food with more than 3 g of fat per 100 calories would be considered high fat

  • Folic Acid keeps blood healthy and fights off anemia.  Recommended daily allowance of 300 mcg for youth to 400 mcg for adults can be found is enriched grain products, breads, cereals, pastas, leafy grean vegetables, and citrus fruits.  
  • Iron gets oxygen to muscles which helps performance.  RDA of 8 mg for youth to 15 mg for adults can be found in iron-fortified cereals and broccoli. 
  • Zinc helps your immune system and healing/injury recovery.  You sweat out zinc when running.  Low intake of zinc can make you more succeptible to more frequent colds, infections, and bronchitis.  RDA is from 8 mg for youth to 12 mg for adults. 
  • Vitamin C protects your body from the oxidative damage caused by exercise and helps maintain a strong immune system.  Many fruits and vegetables contain over 50% of the RDA per serving. 
  • Vitamin E helps protect you from heart disease and cancer. Calcium provides health for your bones.  Bones lose calcium as they age, so it is important to include dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese a regular part of your daily menu.
Beneficial Fruits
  • Bananas provide proper carbs and potassium (lost through sweat) and help regulate muscle contractions. 
  • Oranges provide Vitamin C necessary to protect you against upper respiratory infections which are common during periods of intense training.
  • Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C and are low in calories. 
  • Cantaloupe are rich in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant vitamin that can lower risk to both cancer and heart disease.  
Breakfast Ideas
  • Bagels, muffins, banana bread, etc. 
  • Cereals such as oatmeal, Raisin Bran/Bran Flakes, Grape Nuts, Wheat Chex, etc. 
  • Pancakes, waffles, french toast and additional carbs in maple syrup, honey and applesauce or jam.
Lunch/Dinner Ideas
  • Spaghetti, macaroni, noodles and other pastas with tomato sauce. 
  • Grilled chicken or low fat meats (avoid fatty red meats).
  • Fish/Shrimp are high in muscle building protien, are low in fat, and contain important minerals (calcium and potassium).
  • Crab and Tuna are high in protein.
  • Lettuce boosts intake of vitamins and fiber.
  • Broccoli provides vitamins and potassium. 
  • Rice especially steamed or boiled - Brown is best. 
  • Whole grain breads, rolls, tortillas, etc. 
  • Tomatoes provide Lycopene, a phytochemical that aids cancer protection. 
  • Asparagus provides vitamin A and C. 
Avoid sweets, chips and SOFT DRINKS at all costs.  A winning diet produces a winning athlete!