The hours before a football match can make the difference between one result and another. What can footballers eat and drink?
Lunch, breakfast or a snack just before the football game is essential to replenish glycogen stores and achieve optimal blood sugar levels. In addition, it is important to ensure hydration and avoid gastrointestinal discomfort. How can it be achieved?
First of all, it must be made clear that soccer is an intermittent work sport, in which low-intensity exercise predominates during competitions. Moments of high intensity, sprint type, are combined with rest times.
The most widespread recommendation regarding the consumption of carbohydrates before the game is the following:
- Take between 3-4 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of weight in the 3-4 hours before the game.
- The two hours before, the carbohydrate needs drop to 2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of weight.
- The hour before the start of the competition, only 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilo of weight is required.
With regard to hydration, it is recommended that soccer players drink six glasses of water the hours before the match , although these amounts vary from person to person and depending on environmental conditions.
To ensure proper hydration, the color of the urine can be checked, which varies based on hydration. In any case, you have to consider the time at which the match takes place.
Match in the morning
Considering the option that the match is held in the morning, breakfast should be done 2-3 hours before the game . Some possibilities for these cases are:
- Coffee with milk with toasted bread with fresh cheese and a fruit juice.
- Oat flakes —eight tablespoons— added to the coffee with milk and a piece of fruit, or a fruit juice, failing that. If you opt for this breakfast, you have to consider the possibility of gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Yogurt or coffee with fruit salad and bread with jam.
- This one, although less healthy, is just as effective: latte with Maria-type biscuits.
To sweeten the coffee, in those who need it, you can use both sugar and honey.
Lunch before a game in the afternoon
In the event that the match is played in the afternoon, food must be organized four hours before the start of the match . You can keep the usual breakfast.
The main meal should be based on carbohydrates and be low in fat and fiber, to avoid gastrointestinal upset. Some examples of meals are:
- Pasta with homemade tomato sauce and grilled or baked white fish or lean meat.
- Spaghetti with tomato with a French omelette and a yogurt or fruit for dessert.
- A sandwich stuffed with turkey breast or turkey breast with natural tomato.
- A rice-based dish combined with baked fish and roast potato.
- Pasta salad with fresh cheese and fruit salad.
- Mashed potato, grilled lean meat and toasted bread with fresh cheese for dessert.
- Tomato and potato salad cooked with steamed fish.
After lunch, until the hour before the game, you can take: a piece of fruit, a yogurt, a cereal bar or toast with jam . We must not forget in any case the intake of water.
Party at night
Considering the option of the match being held late in the afternoon, two options can be chosen. One of them is to delay the meal so that it coincides with the 3-4 hours of the game , following the recommendations in the previous section.
Another option may be to bring dinner forward . In this case, the food eaten must follow the same pattern as the meals.
The third option is to have a snack 3-4 hours before the game . This snack can be similar to one of the options in the breakfast section or, in the case of having more appetite, a second meal can be made.
Meal before a game: conclusions
It must be considered that each player has different individual characteristics, so the guideline must be individualized and prepared by a dietitian-nutritionist .
Also, it must be remembered that new foods should not be tried before the game . When athletes travel they may be tempted to try new foods, and these choices can affect performance.
When you want to check the effect of some food on the athlete’s digestion and performance, you have to do the tests beforehand in training. With these keys, the athlete can see his performance favored and will enjoy the physical activity that soccer implies to the fullest.