Sunday, October 16, 2011

Everyday eating - General guidelines for soccer players

I'm in high school and am just beginning a soccer program. I have decent nutritional habits, but what I want to know is now that I'm exercising more, should I change my eating habits? And if I do, what types of foods should I emphasize and what should I eat less of?

Athletic or not, you want to follow the government guidelines ( for a diet based on:

- whole grains, fruits, and vegetables;
- protein as an accompaniment to those carbohydrte-rich foods;
- a little bit of healthful fat in each meal.

By enjoying a variety of foods, you’ll consume:

- carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains) to fuel your muscles;
- lean protein (including fish, chicken, beans, lentils, lowfat milk and yogurt) to build and repair your muscles;
- healthful fats (nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, salmon, avocado) to fight inflammation from the tiny injuries that occur when you train.

To organize your sports diet, think of yourself as having four food buckets:

1. Breakfast bucket;
2. Lunch bucket;
3. Second lunch bucket (some people call this a snack)
4. Dinner bucket.

You want to evenly-fill each bucket with at least three to four different kinds of foods, such as:

Breakfast: cereal, milk, berries, slivered almonds;
Lunch: whole wheat bread, peanut butter, banana, decaf latte;
Lunch #2: pita, hummus, baby carrots, Greek yogurt;
Dinner: chicken, rice, salad/shredded lowfat cheese/olive oil.

For more detailed information, please refer to “Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros” by myself and co-author Gloria Averbuch. It is available at

Have fun and enjoy your high energy!
Nancy Clark MS RD