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Robbinsville Soccer Association

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Nutrition for best performance

Good health and fitness are attained through self-discipline, a commitment to exercise, and the willingness to adhere to a well rounded, nutrient-dense diet. The conscious effort your players make now toward adopting healthy lifestyle habits will have gigantic rewards for their future, including reducing their risk of chronic disease. The foods they eat are the essential fuel for their training regimen and competitive schedule. A  a result, the quantity and quality of their daily intake is paramount to maximal performance.
 
The following sections provide you, as coaches, with important nutrition and performance guidelines to pass on to your players:
 

Key Nutritional Guidelines

 
1. Eat a balanced diet and emphasize fruit (2-4 servings/day), vegetables (3-5 servings/day) and whole grains (6-11 servings/day) in your daily intake. 2. Eat fresh foods whenever possible; minimize processed or refined foods which are often stripped of important nutrients.
3. Eat a variety of foods.
4. Eat in moderation.

Healthy Choices for Snack Foods

 
1. Dried Fruit
2. Yogurt
3. Bagels with low fat cream cheese
4. Fresh fruit and vegetables
5. Whole grain breads with peanut butter or jam
6. Pastas7. Cereal
8. Fig newtons
9. Popcorn
10. Add wheat germ to cereal/pancakes/yogurt which provides a concentrated source of calories, vitamins and minerals.
 

The Pre-Game Meal

 
1. 2-4 hours before a game, eat 100-200 grams of carbohydrate.
2. Individualize food choices: avoid foods that cause you gastric distress.
3. Limit fat and protein intake.
4. Examples of good choices:
 
Toast with jam
Liquid formulas that are easily digestible
Pasta
Cereal with skim milk
Low-fat yogurt
Fresh fruit?
 

Fluid Replacement and Exercise:

 
1. If weight loss during exercise is assessed, drink 2 cups of water for every pound lost.
2. DO NOT restrict fluids before, during or after exercise.
3. Drink 2 ½ cups of fluids before, during or after exercise.
4. Drink 1 ½ cups of fluid 15 minutes before the event.
5. During exercise, drink at least 1 cup of fluid every 15-20 minutes.
6. Drinks should be cool.
7. During prolonged exercise (over 2 hours), sports drinks are extremely effective.
8. Assess fluid loss by urine color: urine should be clear, not yellow and concentrated.
9. Rehydration in the post-exercise period is extremely important for peak performances.
10. Drink in larger volumes rather than continuous sips to minimize gastric distress.
11. DO NOT RELY ON YOUR THIRST MECHANISM TO TELL YOU WHEN TO DRINK. IF YOU ARE THIRSTY, YOU ARE ALREADY DEHYDRATED.
 

Post-Event Consumption:

 
1. In addition to rehydration, consuming 200-300 grams of carbohydrate as soon as tolerated after exercise is important for replenishing muscle and liver glycogen stores.
2. The emphasis on carbohydrate consumption should continue for at least 48 hours.
3. Electrolyte replacement can occur by consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, by salting foods, or choosing foods higher in sodium and potassium.
 

The Importance of Protein in the Diet

 
1. Athletes have an increased need for branched-chain amino acids which are the largest component of muscles, however the American diet is usually more than adequate in protein, so there is no value in amino acid supplementation.
2. An adequate carbohydrate and fat intake preserves body protein.
3. For athletes, protein intake should be ~60 grams/ day (1.2 grams/kg body weight).
4. It is important to integrate complete sources of protein in the diet: meat, poultry, dairy products and soy.
 

The Optimal Weight Loss Approach

 
1. NO STRICT DIETING DURING TRAINING AND COMPETITION.
2. If intention is to lose weight during the season, cut back on fat intake (intake should be 20-25% of the diet during the weight reduction period) and emphasize complex carbohydrates.
3. Aim for ~2 lbs./week. Any more than that, and weight loss is protein and muscle and liver glycogen stores (weight in water which will be gained back quickly).
4. Include resistance training in workout regimen to improve lean body weight, the more metabolically active tissue at rest.
5. Avoid fad diets.
6. Avoid the urge to eat during periods of boredom and inactivity.
 
In general, your diet should be 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein and 20% fat.

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