Soccer Nutrition What to Eat Before a Soccer Game

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What should you eat before a soccer game? When should you eat before a soccer game? These are very important questions that players of all skill levels, from youth to the professional level have to answer.

Proper nutrition is crucial for optimal performance, recovery, mental clarity, and even sleep, which is why it is important to make sure the food you eat before a soccer match is fueling and helping your performance, not harming it.

Most people think that nutrition is the most fundamental part of health, and it is very important, but not as important as your light environment and your mitochondrial function.

In this blog I will explain everything you need to know about what to eat before a soccer game.

What to Eat before a soccer game

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The Truth About Your Pre-Game Meal and Pre-Game Snack

If you are a player looking for a secret food or special meal to eat before a game to help you perform better, then I’m sorry to break it to you but that does not exist. To properly prepare for a soccer match you have to be preparing for the days, weeks, months, and even years leading up to that match.

This means you cannot expect one pre-game meal to give you magic powers and this also means you have to take care of your nutrition and take care of everything else that impacts performance day in and day out.

It is also important to understand that one piece of fruit won’t make you healthy in the same way one cookie won’t make you fat. So although you want to be very consistent with your nutrition there are times when it is okay to enjoy life and have that piece of cookie.

There is a rule that goes by “The 80/20 rule” which means you eat clean 80% of the time and you can eat whatever you want 20% of the time, but I would recommend to follow something more like 90/10. With that being said, when the big game day comes around you also want to make sure you are eating properly and you are timing your meals correctly.

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Pre Game Meal Before a Soccer Game

When you eat is just as important as what you eat. During game day you want to have your main meal about 3-4 hours before the game starts. This is plenty of time to allow the food to digest and for you to absorb the nutrients.

Of course this may have to differ slightly based on your schedule but this is why you modify the time and food proportions. Also, if possible try to get everything in season, local, fresh, and organic, which can be done by supporting your local farmers at a farmers market.

Before a soccer game you also want to focus more on consuming a moderate amount of fats and carbs, as opposed to protein. Although you still need protein you should save most of your protein intake for after the match since that will help with recovery.

Complex Carbohydrates Before a Soccer Game

These are some good complex carbohydrates to eat before a soccer game.

  • Baked sweet potato
  • Regular Potatoes
  • White rice (preferable over brown rice)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Carrots
  • Sourdough bread
  • Raw Honey
  • Raw Dairy

I would avoid or limit whole grain bread, whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, granola bars, oats, and whole grains in general because they have more defense chemicals than the other plant foods on this list.

Plant defense chemicals, such as the most popular one, gluten, can cause allergic reactions and side effects in many people if consumed in excess. If you wish to eat legumes such as black beans then it is very important to prepare them properly and soak them in water overnight to help get rid of the defense chemicals.

Healthy Fats before a soccer game

These are some good healthy fats to eat before a soccer game.

  • Eggs
  • Raw Dairy- Raw Butter. Raw Cream
  • Grass-Fed Beef (and similar ruminants)
  • Grilled fish (ideally raw if safe to consume)
  • Avocado
  • Olive oil

If you wish to eat nuts such as almonds or walnuts it is very important to prepare them properly and soak them in water overnight to help get rid of the defense chemicals.

Healthy Pre Game Snack Options

As you get closer to game time and you feel a bit hungry then it is best to choose some healthy snacks that are fast and easy to digest. These soccer snacks should be eaten about 1-2 hours before the soccer game in case you get hungry, but don’t want to eat a full meal that close to game time.

  • Fresh Fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Fruit Juice
  • Raw Dairy
  • Dark chocolate
  • Grass-Fed Beef Jerky
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Carrots and cucumbers

If you get hungry during the game, you can also eat these same healthy snacks.

Protein After a Soccer Game

After the soccer match ends it is very important to start the recovery process by eating protein rich foods.

  • Grass-Fed Beef Meat (and similar ruminants)
  • Grass-Fed Beef Organs (and similar ruminants)
  • Eggs
  • Raw Fish like Sushi
  • Grilled Fish
  • Grilled Chicken Breast
  • Salmon
  • Raw Dairy – Milk, Kefir, Cheese

Greek yogurt and grass-fed yogurts are decent alternatives, but the best and healthiest type of dairy is raw dairy. Pasteurized dairy is heated to very high temperatures which actually kills the healthy nutrients and bacteria of the raw dairy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, has an entire section dedicated to proper nourishment guidelines.

Do soccer players need supplements for sports performance?

There are various soccer supplements that could be beneficial for soccer players, but they should only be considered if you have fixed your nutrition and hydration needs first.

How to Stay Hydrated Before and During a Soccer Game?

Many soccer players think that the best way to stay hydrated is by drinking either a sports drink or an isotonic drink. To stay hydrated you have to take care of your hydration every single day and during the game drink natural spring water, coconut water, or ideally make your own at-home hydration sports drink.

Avoid sports drinks since most of them are literally just soda with a bit of added electrolytes to make it seem hydrating. During hot weather, that is when you especially want to increase your fluid intake to reduce fatigue and increase water stores in your body.

What not to eat before a soccer game?

Soccer players should not play a game on a completely empty stomach and should eat healthy foods before a soccer game. The foods that soccer players should not eat before a soccer game includes obvious junk food such as fried foods, sugary foods, sugary energy drinks, etc.

I would even advise players to avoid spicy foods as they can lead to an upset stomach. Also, it is important for players to not eat a big meal 1-2 hours before the game as this may cause them to feel bloated.

Conclusion

In conclusion, what you eat before a soccer game has a huge impact on your overall performance, mental clarity, and even recovery after the game is finished. In this blog, I covered the truth about your pre-game meals, the importance of what to eat before a soccer game, when to eat before a soccer game, as well as answered common questions regarding hydration and what foods not to eat.

So now that you are done reading this blog, head over to the grocery store, stock up on some healthy food and snacks, and watch and feel your performance and recovery reach the next level.

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