As well as getting the correct training on the pitch, another essential part of any young soccer players development and conditioning is that they have the correct diet.
My article’s information targets: “the importance of nutrition”, “what young players should eat as part of their routine, before and after a match?”.
Nutrition has fundamental effects of the development of the game – on the one hand you want to get the maximum energy performance out of the player and on the other hand, the recovery of the player after the match
is also very important.
A player is in a better position to be using to be in the next match if he eats correctly and drinks what he is supposed to.
The different aspects to nutrition are very basic. First, you can say that this is the normal nutrition to one average person. The next, “how to achieve the maximum energy capacity of the player during the match”, and then, thirdly and very importantly, the physiological recovery of the player’s body.
To help the body to be in an optimal state for high level performance, a good diet is essential. It’s not just “what to eat?”, it’s also “when to eat?”.
I recommend you to eat – natural things and that means, firstly you need vitamins and minerals, which can be obtained from vegetables. A salad would be a great first dish, I mean a green salad and not tuna and eggs, with the second dish to combine carbohydrates and a few proteins (for example pasta with a little bit of tuna) – from pasta you get the carbs, from the fish you get proteins and from the olive oil you get the fat. And finally some fruits, that would be a perfect dinner.
The meal before a match – it consists of carbohydrates with just a little proteins, because proteins might cause difficulties with digestion. But at that moment, you can say that the energy basis of the payer is set up. You have to try to maintain glucose level in the blood by givind it some carbs like in pasta or rice and always in combination with vegetables and a small amount of proteins (as free from fat as possible), so, fish is ideal.
We must usually eat with 3 hours before the game but I would recommend eating even a bit before that – something like 3 and a half hours before the match will be perfect.
When the match is finished – I would recommend eating 30 minutes after the final whistle. The reason for trying to eat as soon as possible after a match is because there is a period of time up to 45 minutes after physical exercise where there is a window of recovery for the body. In this period we must give the body carbohydrates and proteins.
At the end of the match, the muscles and hepatic portal system of the players are completely exhausted. So, during this phase, we have to recover the glucose and the carbohydrates (pasta or rice are the best things to eat at that moment). Then, we have to restore and repair the player’s proteins balance, so the player will be fit again for the physical exercise the day after and don’t suffer from muscular problems – to prevent that you need to take proteins.
To rebalance your body after the game, an example of meal will be: green salad with tuna, eggs and oven baked turkey.
The perfect hydration for soccer players – would be a basis of water in combination with electrolytes and then adding vitamins and minerals to the water, followed by carbs, but not many of them.
Vitamins and minerals – are necessary because you lose lots of them through sweating. I always recommend to drink at half time as well as towards the end of the game. It’s always recommended.
Of course you can’t drink constantly, but you should, as much as possible. So, for example, half a liter is essential. An then, towards the end of the match it depends on how much water the player has lost, but normally we talk about one and a half or two liters of liquid. The overall importance of nutrition and hydration cannot be underestimated !
My advices for young players – I would tell them to get enough fluids to hydrate, secondly, try to introduce to every meal a group of carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats, but always in the right amount. Eat 4-5 meals per day, but always in small quantities.
Don’t stuck yourself with one big meal !
The role of mother and father is fundamental, as a child to have an image where you can mirror yourself (the child looking at the parents).
Lot’s of parents affirm: “my son doesn’t eat this or that”. I have to say that we must first start with ourselves and then transmit that to our children.
For a child it is even more important to grasp, even more than professional players, because you have to understand what the basics of nutrition are, to be easier introduced from the beginning. So then, when they will reach a higher level in sport, they are already aware.
Also you must not forget that a child doing sports has doubled the energy requirements: being a child + exercising the chosen sport, so, if the nutrition isn’t correct, the child won’t have the necessary energy levels and can also affect the development to that child.
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