When the time comes to take center stage and try out for soccer, what you eat beforehand is critically important. Whether you're trying out for your high school or college team or a local club, you need the right nutrition to give you the energy to perform at your best. The right combination of foods can give you the edge over your competition.
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Kick Off With Breakfast
On the morning of the tryouts, you'll probably be nervous, but don't let nerves put you off your breakfast. Whole-grain toast is a good choice for soccer players for breakfast, notes Matt Lovell, nutritionist for U.K.-based Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Oatmeal or another whole-grain cereal is also a fine choice, along with a little sugar from honey, jam or fruit juice. Pair your carbohydrate with protein from eggs to slow the absorption of the sugars. Protein will also aid muscle recovery.
All About Carbs
Carbs are the main fuel for your muscles and energy systems, so if you're low on carbs, performance will suffer. In an article for the Inside Soccer website, Chuck Bales, professor and coach at Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois, notes that carb-loading before an event can take a little planning. Bales suggests consuming 3 grams of carbs per pound of body weight in a four-hour period after each training session leading up to the day of competition, or in this case -- the tryout. Divide it into 16 doses so you're having a dose every 15 minutes for the best results.
Finding the Right Foods
Avoid high-fat meals in the hours leading up to the tryout, as a high fat intake can slow digestion, making you feel uncomfortable, warns dietitian Jayson Hunter. You might find you also respond better to liquid meals, as these won't sit as heavily in your stomach. Above all, make sure you try your planned nutrition strategy a week or two before the day of the tryout so you can see whether there are any foods or food combinations you want to avoid.
It's Game Time
Hunter recommends tapering down your calorie intake as it gets closer to tryout time. Around three to five hours before, have a meal of around 300 to 500 calories. At two to three hours out, have a 200- to 300-calorie meal, followed by a liquid meal of 100 to 200 calories an hour later and a small 50- to 100-calorie snack in the half hour to an hour before you start. For pre-tryout meals and snacks, nutritional wellness counselor and chef Jeff Natt suggests fresh or dried fruit, small amounts of nuts, crackers, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, or bagels.