Last weekend, WPS had a bye—meaning no competition. However, professional athletes understand that doesn’t mean abandoning good nutritional habits, such as making sure to have plenty of healthy food on hand.
One of the most common failings of youth players (and youth in general) is to go from school to practice or games or any activities “on empty.” They’ve had a noon lunch, but don’t have the snacks on hand to fuel up for post-school play. That means not eating for at least 6-7 hours.
Two lunches is the solution.
Solving the Four O’clock Munchies
Many athletes believe eating in the afternoon is sinful. They self-inflict "Thou shalt not snack" as an Eleventh Commandment. Then, if they succumb, they feel guilty. Or more likely, younger players do not plan for after-school eating, and then train on empty. Hunger is neither bad nor wrong. It is a normal physiological function. You can expect to get hungry every four hours. If you have lunch at 11:00 or 12:00 P.M., your body needs fuel by 3:00 or 4:00 P.M.
If you think of your afternoon fuel as a “second lunch,” you’ll end up with wholesome food—a second sandwich, a mug of soup, or peanut butter on crackers and a (decaf) latte. In comparison, “afternoon snack” suggests candy, cookies and sweets—the goodies craved by soccer players who eat too little at breakfast and first lunch. The preferred solution to sweet cravings is to prevent the cravings by eating more food earlier in the day, and having a second lunch later in the afternoon. The second lunch maintains afternoon energy and helps prevent evening over-eating.
“When I was on the Boston Breakers, Nancy taught us to eat two lunches. It’s good to eat the same amount of food four times a day instead of a little bit in the morning and then a lot towards the end of the day.”
Amy Rodriguez, Forward, Philadelphia Independence
Excerpted from Food Guide for Soccer—Tips & Recipes From the Pros, with Women’s Professional Soccer, by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, RD. Available on www.amazon.com or www.nancyclarkrd.com