Eat Like An Athlete

You can have all the athletic ability in the world but if you don’t put the same amount of effort and discipline into your nutrition plan then all the gains can be for nothing.

Ask any athlete on the planet and they will say that getting their diet right is half the battle. Take soccer for instance, it is a physically demanding sport that requires the body to be effectively replenished through nutrition. In this article we look at what it takes to eat like a soccer star, and this knowledge can then be effectively implemented across any sport.

The importance of a soccer player’s diet was summed up perfectly by Arsene Wenger, the manager of English soccer club Arsenal. According to ThoughtCo he said: “Food is like kerosene. If you put the wrong one in your car, it’s not as quick as it should be.” Indeed Wenger famously changed his team’s diet habits during his first season in 1996. The next season his team won two trophies.

The question now is what it the ideal diet for a soccer star? Strikers United in their document ‘Eat Right to Play Right, Nutrition for the Soccer Player’ put carbohydrates as the number one food group. They state that complex carbs such as spaghetti, potatoes, rice, and lentils “should be given priority because they provided 40-50% of our body’s energy requirements.” A soccer player needs carbohydrates in order to have enough energy to not only play a 90-minute game but also recover from it.

The best soccer players in the US play for the national team and the official US Soccer website has a list of 10 nutrition rules to live by. Their top two tips are to eat natural foods such as fruit and vegetables and eat a wide selection. The US team also emphasizes the importance of eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up to jump-start the metabolism.

For those who are looking at this page and worrying about the strict diet, there is some hope. Speaking to soccer magazine FourFourTwo US soccer star Clint Dempsey spoke of eating less healthy foods in moderation. When asked about junk food and beer Dempsey replied: “You don’t have to be so strict that you ban yourself from eating or drinking something. You have to live your life, it is too short to keep yourself away from all the things you enjoy.”

As long as you don’t over indulge eating moderate amounts of ‘fun food’ will help with motivation. The balance has clearly worked for Dempsey, who according to journalist Kevin Hatchard who writes for Betfair Premier League, as well as covering international fixtures for the site, Dempsey is a US soccer hero and continues to perform even though he is coming to the end of his career. This is certainly testament to his diet and how well he looks after himself on and off the pitch all year round.

Hopefully this article has given soccer players and those who want to improve their diet some useful tips. Dedication and discipline in the kitchen can hugely help to improve performance levels and give you the edge over opponents. The important points are to eat whole foods, eat at the right time, and remember that it is okay to have occasional cheat meals to keep motivation up.

*Article courtesy of an outside source and verified by Raquel Redmond, RD, LDN

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