Player fitness isn’t just about cardio. Nutrition is a key component to player fitness. Eating the “right” foods will fuel the tank and prepare you for optimum performance on a soccer field. But, what should you be eating? How can you prepare yourself to play soccer from a nutritional standpoint?
Ben Yauss, the LA Galaxy Strength and Conditioning Coach, wrote an article that provides ten nutrition rules. While you may have heard of some of these, putting them together consistently is incredibly potent. For instance, the concept of “Recovery” is gaining momentum not just in nutrient replacement, but other exercises to move that lactic acid and increase performance.
Here’s the original original article from Ben Yauss from the LA Galaxy:
When most people think of what goes into optimizing sports performance and preparing to be the best possible soccer player, they usually look at obvious things like ball work, fitness and weight room exercises as essential components for success. The one important element that nearly always gets overlooked though is nutrition. It is essential to properly fuel the body in order to perform all the necessary demands needed on the pitch. Over the next couple weeks, we are going to dive into this topic a little more and discuss everything from meal planning to proper hydration and fueling before, during, and after a practice or game. To start, let’s look at some simple, easy and creative rules that we employ with the Galaxy players to get them thinking about nutrition and help emphasize the importance it plays in being a successful soccer player.
1. Eat Breakfast Every Day! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is vital to fuel the body after a good night’s sleep to prepare for the demands that the new day will present. It will also increase metabolism and fuel the brain.
2. Eat 5/6 Meals Per Day. The goal is to eat a meal or snack every three hours throughout the day. By eating 6 meals a day we can control our appetite and boast energy and metabolism.
3. Come Back to Earth. Try to eat less processed foods. We tell the Galaxy players to include foods that come from the earth in their diets, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
4. The Less Legs the Better. Protein helps build, maintain, and restore muscle so it is very important that the Galaxy players consume enough protein to stay lean and strong. While most people assume this means more beef and chicken don’t forget that protein also comes from fish, which also provides important omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. If they go with the four legged critters though, we emphasize the importance that it is a lean cut.
5. Not All Fats are Bad. Contrary to popular belief there is such a thing as good fats – and fats are actually critical to good health. Fats help release energy and control blood sugar. The key here is to make sure we are consuming “good fats.” The Galaxy players include olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and flax seeds in their diet to control their energy as well as improve their mental clarity and cognitive abilities.
6. Don’t Forget Fruits and Veggies. We tell the Galaxy players to include fruits and vegetables with each meal, but also to add some color and variety to those fruits and vegetables. Different colors provide different nutrients, so eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies.
7. Stay Hydrated. Galaxy players are told that they should be consuming between .5 – 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. So for example, AJ DeLaGarza, who is approximately 145 lbs., needs to consume between 72 and 145 ounces of water per day while Omar Gonzalez, at 210 lbs., needs 105 to 210 ounces.
8. Have a Pre Workout Snack. Having a pre workout snack will help boost your energy for that workout. We give the players “shooters,” which are basically a drink filled with protein and carbohydrates to make sure they are properly fueled for practice or a game.
9. Recover After Your Session. We try to have the players eat or consume a protein shake within 30 minutes of every workout. Practice or a game requires a lot of energy and calories and also damages our muscles. It is very important that we get the necessary nutrients back into their bodies to help them recover and restore from the previous session.
10. Get Your Sleep! Sleep helps replenish energy stores and allows the body time to restore and repair itself. The benefits of following a strict nutrition and workout plan during the day are lost by not getting a good night’s sleep.
By giving the Galaxy players a few simple and easy rules we are hopefully setting them up to be healthier in general and more successful on the pitch. Next week, we will get a little more specific by looking more closely at hydration and some of the things we do to make sure all the players are staying hydrated on and off the pitch.
This story originally appeared: http://www.lagalaxy.com/news/2011/07/fitness-insider-nutrition-rules-live