Don’t let your little warrior burn-out during his first game. In this post, I will provide you with a guide on the foods your kid should eat before a soccer game.
Soccer is a high-intensity sport with very few rest times. As long as the ball is rolling in the field the players will be running most of the time.
A player who can last till the final whistle needs a lot of fuel to burn to give him the horsepower he needs. A pregame meal plan is needed to prep your kid so that before the game starts he is already fully charged.
A good pregame meal plan not only gives your kid the required energy but it may be the game changer for his team. Normally towards the end of the match is when the well-prepared player and the team excel because whoever has some fuel left will score goals and win the game.
You will find that the pregame meal is only a third of your preparation. There will be light meals and fluids during the game and post-game meals as well
Please note this guide only serves to give you an understanding of the concept of planning meals for your kid. There is a saying that goes like this, “if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
Importance Of Pregame Diet
Ok, let’s get into some basic nutrition knowledge without the technical terms. For optimal performance, your kid needs to stock up his glycogen by eating carbohydrate-rich foods.
In one research, it is found that athletes with high glycogen run farthest. That is because glycogen fuels the muscle cells.
It is recommended that the carbohydrate intake should be 5-6g per kilogram of body weight. This should be taken throughout the 24 hours pre-game.
Protein is a nutrient required for healing and recovery. It is also important for growth, red blood cell formation, and hormones.
Due to its function, it is not a nutrient needed for a pregame meal. Therefore it should be eaten moderately.
When glycogen is used up, fat is the second source of fuel. It can be eaten in a pregame meal but from low to moderate.
Hydration is also important before, during, and after the game. When playing in the sun a kid can go dehydrated within 15 – 30 minutes.
You can keep your kid hydrated by giving him water or a sports drink.
Game Day – 2 Hours Pregame
2 to 3 hours before the game your kid can have a light carbohydrate-rich meal. This should give enough time for the food to digest before they play.
The light meal is important as you don’t want your kid to go hungry during the game. However, stay away from foods that may cause blood sugar spikes.
A blood sugar spike occurs when your blood sugar rises and fall sharply after you eat. This will cause players to go hungry and feel tired.
A healthy snack during travel to the game is also best for the kid.
The best carbohydrate-rich and low protein/fat foods are:
- Bread with peanut butter, pasta, rice, pancakes
- Salad with low dressing
- Small pieces of baked chicken, steamed vegetables, and rice
- Fruits such as grapes, apples, bananas, and orange
- Drink plenty of water
- A glass of skim milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese
Foods to avoid are:
- Fried or high-fat foods such as hotdogs, sausages, eggs, and steaks because they took longer to break down in the stomach
- Sweets such as candy and cake that can cause a blood sugar spike
- Too much sports drink
- Drinks that contain caffeine
This is the moment your kid has been waiting for and you must be excited as well. You have prepared your little warrior all along and today you will witness the result of your preparation.
One important component to maintain is hydration throughout his performance. Kids normally go dehydrated after 15 to 30 minutes into the game.
If it is a sunny day your kid will sweat a lot because this is a mechanism designed to cool off the body temperature. Dehydration can lead to heat stroke in severe cases. Therefore constant hydration is important during the entire game.
Bottle of water and sports drinks are the best solutions.
At half time the glycogen level will drop so a carbohydrate supplement drink is recommended to replenish lost energy. When glycogen is depleted your kid will feel tired and important muscle tissues will be used for fuel. You need to avoid this from happening because it is totally bad for the kid.
It is also important for the game strategy because players will start to get tired (low glycogen) towards the end of the game. And if your kid’s team has more energy than their opponents then the chances of winning becomes high.
If there will be another game then you need to replenish your kid’s energy level with light carbohydrate and plenty of fluid. This can be a handful and I recommend a portable cooler esky or a bag will come in handy.
The following foods will help during the game day:
- Light carbs food such as sandwich
- Whole grain bread
- Granola bar
- Water and carbohydrate supplement drink
Post Game – 2-4 Hours After Game
After the game carbohydrate and protein are essential to your kid’s recovery, the sooner the better. During the game the stored glycogen (energy) is severely depleted, therefore you will see that your kid is exhausted.
The next 2 hours are critical for your kid’s glycogen replenishment. It is important your kid started with his carbohydrate intake right after the game. The carbohydrate intake should be similar to the pregame meal
Also eating protein foods, as commonly known as bodybuilding food, help to repair the wear and tear to the muscle cells sustained during the intense soccer game. Protein also promotes muscle cell growth in your child.
It is equally important is to drink more fluid after the game to re-hydrate muscles and flush out. As a rule of thumb, your kid should drink water until his urine is light yellow to clear.
Below is a list of post game foods:
- Fruit such as bananas, oranges, apples, kiwi, individual servings of canned fruit, dried fruit and fruit juice
- Protein foods such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter sandwich or lean meat sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lettuce and tomato
- Carbohydrate-rich foods such as breakfast cereal
- Calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, fat-free milk, and low-fat string cheese
Plenty Of Rest
Finally, a good rest after a long hard day will do your kid a lot of benefits. Generally, kids need to sleep around 10 hours depending on their age. During rest the body repairs and rebuilds itself
A good nutrition plan is essential for your kid’s success on the field. Its mostly common sense and you don’t have to be a scientist to figure it out.
The main diet strategy is high carbohydrate before a game, a lot of fluid and some carbohydrate during a game and more carbohydrates, protein, and fluid after the game.
Kids reacted to foods differently make sure you are aware of any allergies your kid might have. And also see your doctor for advice and clearance.
There you go, I hope your little warrior comes out triumph today and see you on the next post.
Read about my review on Soft Sided Cooler Review – Best Coolers For Soccer Training.