Nutrition Fact Sheet
Fueling Your Soccer Player: Nutrition and Hydration
Fueling your athlete with food and water is no different than fueling your car with gasoline. Without proper nutrition and hydration your athlete may not perform up to their potential. There are two key components to fueling an athlete. The first is the establishment of healthy eating and drinking on a daily basis. This serves as a foundation for game-day nutrition, which will “top off the tank” and help improve performance.
Daily Nutrition and Hydration
Making healthy decisions daily about nutrition and hydration can be challenging. For families with working parents and constant driving between after-school activities, it is not always easy. However, there are several small choices that can make a big difference in the overall nutrition of your family. The first is to limit fast food . Fast food is loaded with high calories and fat and therefore has virtually no nutritious content. Also, consider packing a lunch for your athlete. This will allow you and your child to make healthy dietary choices together.
The second change to make is to limit consumption of soda pop. Pop contains a large amount of sugar, and is also considered “empty” in terms of nutritional content. Caffeinated pop also dehydrates you by increasing your urine production. Instead, replace pop with water. Some kids hate drinking plain water, so flavor it with a lemon or a lime slice. There are no calories in water and it serves an important role in keeping your athlete hydrated. If you already restrict pop and fast food intake, congratulations! You have already made an important decision to teach your child healthy eating habits.
A good daily nutrition and hydration plan should include the following:
- 2 to 3 servings of protein: poultry, fish, lean meat, beans, eggs
- 3 to 4 servings of dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese
- 6 to 11 servings of grains (ideally whole grains): bread, pasta, rice, cereals
- 4 to 6 servings of fruits/vegetables: dried, canned, or whole fruit and raw or cooked veggies (dark green veggies are the best)
- 8 tall glasses (8 ounces each) of water
For a fun way to determine your specific nutritional needs, go to choosemyplate.gov. Here, you can enter your age, gender, and level of physical activity for a daily nutrition plan to meet your needs. You can also obtain ideas for food selection.
With the busy lifestyle we all lead, it becomes difficult to sit down for a healthy meal three times a day. One easy solution is to eat smaller meals more frequently. Snacking can be very healthy, as long as it includes the right food. Packing a piece of fruit, crackers with peanut butter, or even a yogurt can help you get closer to meeting your daily nutritional goals. Also, carrying around a water bottle or even just drinking through a straw can help increase your intake.