What to Eat Before a Soccer Game

If you are a soccer player, you need to stock up on energy to last you through the 90-minute game. Doing this successfully is easy if you have a nutritionist guiding you. Otherwise, you need to mind foods to eat before a soccer game to avoid getting cramps, energy deprivation or passing out during the game. 

What to Eat Before a Soccer Game

Sports nutritionists advise that you eat real food before a soccer game. Avoid power bars, soft drinks, protein drinks and powders and gels.

Nutrition

While nutrition is a daily necessity, it takes on an even greater importance as the day of the game approaches. Your body stores energy for use in the next 24-36 hours. To prepare well for the game, you need to eat a good meal the night before the game. This should feature lean proteins such as meat, eggs and beans.

Your meal should contain about 50 percent carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes and cereals. These are broken down into glucose to provide the energy that you need during the game.

But it’s not enough to eat the night before the game. Have a meal two or three hours before the game. This meal should have lots of carbs and some protein. If you can’t have a real meal around this time, a lighter meal biased towards carbs and little protein will suffice. Beware of fatty foods as these are not readily digested and can lead to cramping and slowness. 

Hydration

Besides what to eat before a soccer game, for best performance your body needs adequate hydration. Start taking more water and fluids three days to game day. Maintain this through to game time.

On the day of the game, take non-caffeinated fluids one hour to the game. Keep sipping on water, sports drinks and juices, but avoid soft drinks. 

Here is one example of what to eat and drink before a soccer game.

Time What to Eat

3 - 5 Hours Before the Game

  • Choose an easily digestible meal, high in carbs, low or moderate in proteins, low in fat and low or moderate in fiber.
  • For each pound of body weight, eat one half of a gram, high quality carb. If you are 160 lb, eat 80 grams of carbs.
  • Choose high quality carbohydrate foods such as bagels, whole grain bread, tortillas, English muffins, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain cereals, fruits such as apples and bananas, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, peas and corn.
  • Drink lots of water; 16 to 24 ounces is a perfect guide.  

45 - 60 Minutes Before the Game

Take a small, high-carb snack, with moderate protein and low fat, such as:

  • 1 pc, 100 % whole wheat bread, 1 tablespoon jelly, 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 bagel and 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 pc turkey/cheese sandwich and 20 ounces sports drink
  • Low-fat fruit yogurt, 1 banana and 8 ounces sports drink

General Calorie Intake Guidelines

After knowing what to eat before a soccer game, following are general guidelines on the recommended calorie intake. You should not eat all the calories indicated from 3-5 hours to 0.5 to 1 hour. The figures indicate the amount of calories you need to eat if you eat at 3-5 hours, 2-3 hours, 1-2 hours or 0.5 to 1 hour before the game. Therefore, rely on the timing of your meal to determine how much you should eat. 

Time Prior to Game (hour)

Type of Meal

Amount of Calories (kcal)

½ to 1

Snack

50 - 100

1 to 2

Liquid meal

100 - 200

2 to 3

Small meal

200 - 300

3 to 5

Large meal

300 - 500

A Sample Pregame Menu

The following is a whole-day menu for what to eat before a soccer game. The game begins at 8 PM.

Breakfast: 8.30 - 9:00 AM

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup milk (low-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 banana
  • 8 oz. glass juice/ nectar

Snack

  • 1 bar granola (low-sugar, low-fat)

Lunch: 12:00 PM

  • ¾ cup tuna-salad, light mayonnaise
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • 3 slices avocado
  • Tomatoes, lettuce, pickles
  • 1 cup potato salad (low-fat)
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • Fresh fruit

Snack

  • ½ cup fruit salad
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 1½ oz. pretzels

Pregame meal: 4:00 - 4:30 PM

  • 5 oz. baked salmon 
  • 1½ cup brown rice (cooked)
  • 1 cup asparagus
  • Tossed salad
  • 2 tablespoons salad dressing
  • 1 cup low-fat milk

 

 
 
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