Healthy eating for soccer

An Elite level soccer match is roughly equivalent to a 10-11 km run, including 1 km sprinting and 40-60 acceleration and direction changes at five-second intervals (1). In addition, soccer requires agility with the ball and constant attention to what is happening on the pitch. Unlike a hockey player, a soccer player can be in action all or most of the game (90 minutes in the case of older people).

It is therefore not surprising that this type of effort draws heavily on the main fuel for muscles: carbohydrates, stored in the form of glycogen. The outside temperature also causes, depending on the age of the athlete, heavy sweating which contributes to a decrease in the intensity of his game and his attention.

For all of these reasons, coaches, parents and athletes wonder what is appropriate to eat and drink in a soccer tournament.

Age, position and duration of play will impact food intake

Every athlete is different. In addition, the energy expenditure of a center player is generally much higher than that of a goalkeeper or defender.

In the little ones, the players often change position, and the game is less structured. Energy expenditure therefore really varies depending on the child’s commitment to running or not. Some play the whole game. In their case, half-time is a crucial time to rehydrate (2) and gain 15 to 30 g of carbohydrates for the next 45 minutes (3, 4). I often suggest taking a few sips of a sports drink (ideally homemade) or water and eating a fruit compote in a pouch, watermelon (watermelon), orange wedges or a bar. of dried fruit (5).

What to eat before going to the tournament:

The day before departure, you should eat a meal rich in carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits, milk or substitutes, etc.) and liquids to promote good hydration. In the morning, we should aime to eat well-known foods that we digest well, especially if the matches start very early.

Foods on the spot :

The food to be provided between matches and at the hotel must take into account the temperature, the duration of the trip (if applicable), the location of the tournament, restaurants or grocery stores nearby , the number of matches and the time between each. In addition, as the level of stress can be very high and interfere with the digestion of some, we can supplement our intake by consuming liquid foods (easier to digest) such as instant breakfasts, canned smoothies (fruit drinks). and liquid meal supplements. In addition to supporting, these foods are a source of energy.

Here are some more examples of practical snacks to pack into a suitcase or cooler:

  • bars of all kinds (tender, granola, energy);
  • canned chocolate or soy milk;
  • powdered sports drinks or juice to prepare a homemade drink on site;
  • nuts and dehydrated fruits;
  • fresh fruit, compotes and small juice boxes;
  • dry cereals, bagels, bread and crackers;
  • peanut butter and cheese;
  • portions of canned tuna or salmon.

Of course, if the weather allows it, you can prepare a sandwich with meat and cheese, accompanied by raw vegetables, yogurt and fruit. It is also possible to have a light meal at the restaurant, for example a skinless chicken breast with rice and vegetables or a pasta dish with tomato sauce and vegetables. The last meal / snack of the day should however contain a larger portion of protein, as well as carbohydrates and fluids to recover well for the matches the next day!

On the way back, don’t forget to put vegetables back on the menu if the tournament days included less!



[2] Williams CA, Blackwell J. Hydration status, fluid intake, and electrolyte losses in youth soccer players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012 Dec;7(4):367-74

[3] Jeukendrup 2008 Eur J Sport Sci Carbohydrate Feeding during Exercise


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