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Fuel Up Right For Game Day!

There is probably no area more full of misleading information than that pertaining to the proverbial pre-game meal.

Remember that the more calories (i.e. fat and protein) in a meal, the slower the food leaves the stomach. Carbohydrates are always the best choice as fruits, cereals, juices, pancakes/waffles, etc. are preferable to sausage, eggs, steak or other high-fat and high-protein alternatives.

Food in general, and carbohydrates in particular, should be avoided in the last hour before play. Carbohydrates stimulate an insulin response that lowers blood sugar and also stimulates the production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that makes you listless and sleepy.

Both are obviously counterproductive to competition. If something must be eaten, choose low-glycemic-index foods like yogurt, peanuts beans, peas, apples, peaches, pears, milk and milk products.

Immediately prior to competition (in the minutes before kickoff), carbohydrates can be taken in. The excitement of the game will counteract the insulin response and the fresh carbohydrates give the muscles an extra source of fuel. The type of carbohydrates is important. Foods should be of a moderate or high glycemic index — such as a bagel or white bread with jams or jellies, oranges, grapes, raisins, banana, watermelon, pineapple, cooked carrots, pretzels or even a candy bar.

Carbohydrate supplement drinks also work great. "Clear" candies (jelly beans, "Gummy" candy, Skittles, etc.) are another choice.

Eating During Competition

During the game, carbohydrate supplement drinks given before the game and at halftime have been shown to increase running volume and intensity in the second half in soccer players. This is important to consider because goals become more frequent later in the game as players get tired.

If you have more energy than your opponents, you are more likely to have an advantage over the opposition and, hopefully, score more often later in the game.

Washington Youth Soccer

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