Practice is definitely how soccer players develop their skills, but without the proper nutrition their bodies would not be able to handle the stress. Food is fuel and eating the right kinds will take your game to the next level. It is important to get the right amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as hydrating properly.
You could eat perfectly, but if you are not properly hydrated your game will suffer. A good way to determine how much fluid to replace is to weigh yourself before and after physical activity. Take both numbers and subtract your post-weight from your pre-weight. Consume enough fluids to get back to your pre-weight.
In addition to plain water, you will also need to replace electrolytes lost when sweating. Sodium is the primary electrolyte lost during physical activity. Sports drinks are helpful in replacing both water and lost electrolytes.
Exercising or playing soccer without adequate nutrition is like trying to drive a car without gas. The fumes may get you somewhere, but you will not get far. To fuel your body before a workout or game, look to carbohydrates. Athletes should get about 0.5 grams of carbohydrates for every pound that they weigh. Foods like bagels, bananas and oatmeal are always popular choices. If you do not do well with solid foods before physical activity, try a nutritional shake.
How to Eat During Activity
If you are going to be playing a game or working out for longer than 60 minutes, you will have to fuel your body. Again, carbohydrates are king, as well as replacing fluids and electrolytes. A banana or nutritional shake can help with the food-based nutritional needs. Failing to stay fueled can lead to fatigue and decreased athletic performance.
Eating After Activity
This is the time to refuel carbohydrates as well as get in some protein. Pasta with meat sauce, a bagel with peanut butter or even a grainy cereal with milk are very helpful in replacing lost nutrients. This is also the time to fully rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes. Watery fruits are a good choice because not only can they help in replacing water, but they also have a variety of other important nutrients. Athletes will still need plain water though, and to make sure that lost electrolytes are replaced.