Refueling after a game is critical to restore muscle glycogen, repair muscle damage, and replace any lost fluids. Because carbohydrates are the foundation of a soccer player’s diet, replacing them after a game should be priority. Refueling with high-powered snacks and drinks will restore and repair your muscles and get you ready for your next competition.
Priority Number 1: Carbohydrates
Fink, Burgoon, and Mikesky, authors of “Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition,” recommend that immediately following a game, soccer players consume 1.2 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight, and even up to 2.0 grams per kilogram for those athletes who are highly active during the game. So, depending on position played, a 154-pound soccer player should aim for consuming 84 to 140 grams of carbohydrates immediately following exercise. This can be accomplished by consuming 8 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice (25 grams), 1.5 ounces of whole-wheat crackers (30 grams) and 1 cup of low-fat fruit yogurt (40 grams). For additional carbohydrates, drinking 8 ounces of a sports drink immediately following your game will provide another 13 to 19 grams.
Repair with Protein
Protein is another key consideration for soccer players. Adding some protein to your post-game snack helps repair your muscles. Fink, Burgoon, and Mikesky recommend that team sport athletes consume a minimum of 6 to 20 grams of protein after exercise. An 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk provides 7 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrates. Adding 2 ounces of sliced lean turkey to a 2-ounce bagel will give you 14 grams of protein along with your 30 grams of carbohydrates. Other good suggestions for combining protein and carbohydrate snacks to reach the recommended amounts include 2 tablespoons of peanut butter on 2 slices of whole grain toast with one piece of whole fruit and an 8-ounce glass of soy milk.
Don't Forget Your Fluids
Soccer players can lose a lot of fluids during a long game. You'll need to fully replace any fluid losses so that you are well-hydrated for your next practice or competition. According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, an athlete should consume enough fluid to replace 150 percent of the body weight lost due to sweat, or approximately 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost. In addition to water, other fluid options include sports drinks, 100 percent fruit juices, and dairy or non-dairy milk.
Minerals that Help
Including electrolyte minerals, such as sodium and potassium in your post-exercise snacks will help with fluid absorption as well as carbohydrate uptake in your muscles. Electrolytes are common in commercial sports products, such as sports drinks and energy bars. Fruits, like bananas, peaches, raisins and dried apricots are good sources of potassium. These types of snacks are easy to pack in your gym bag, transport, and consume right after your game.