I don’t know why, but my favorite time to play soccer is definitely at night! Indeed, I’ve played many games at the late hours of the day and have really enjoyed it …
… However, I’ve done couple mistakes, especially by not paying much attention to what I eat before games!
This has cost me, in many occasions, my usual endurance and stamina. I didn’t have as much fun after 30 to 45 minutes of playing since I usually starts struggling to keep up with the pace of the game.
This article gathers my modest feedback and knowledge on what you should consider eating before an actual soccer, especially at night!
Calorie intake to have at night
While a normal person’s diet consists generally of:
- 46% carbohydrates
- 38% fat
- 16% protein
The average soccer player’s nutrition plan consists of around:
- 60% carbohydrates
- 25% fat
- 15% protein
In fact, a 90 minutes soccer game can burn around 1100 – 1800 calories, which puts soccer among the physically most demanding sports.
In addition, average soccer player covers a distance of 5 – 6 miles per game, with 500 yards of sprinting and 1.4 miles of intense running. If you take into account other activities, training and game preparation, average soccer player spends about 3000 – 3500 calories per day.
Carefully designed nutrition plan is needed for having enough energy to accomplish all the tasks and secure wanted results.
Depending on the player’s weight, calories spent can vary, in other words …
- A 145 pound player would spend around 1100 calories
- 165 pound player spends about 1250 calories
- While a 210 pound player spends 1550 calories on average.
Basic formula is to eat 22 – 24 calories times your bodyweight in pounds, and 1 – 1.5 grams of protein times body weight in pounds.
Most important nutrients to consider …
The key to eating before a soccer game or practice at night is to focus on light meals. This means small portions, but reach in complex carbohydrates and protein!
Important thing to remember here is to eat 3 to 4 hours before the game, as this energy rich food takes some time to digest properly.
Food you should focus on tuna fish, salmon, chicken, egg products, in combination with vegetables and some fresh fruit.
Carbo rich food such as spinach or kale will help your body produce glycogen, which is essential for your muscles to have enough energy for explosive movements.
Eggs, turkey and ham are also great choices before the game, as these foods are great sources of protein. In addition, eggs are not only rich in vitamins such as D, A and B2, but in amino acids, which are needed to your body for its functions.
If you need to boost your confidence before the game, you need to increase the level of testosterone in your body. This is achieved through good fats. Fish, avocado, coconut, all great choices.
Food you wish to avoid are bacon, burgers and steaks, oats and honey. This is due to a lot of time required for this food to digest.
Also, try to avoid dairy products, as these foods can cause stomach pain and discomfort. Also keep in mind that the closer the meal is to the game, include more light food, with lower portions of fat and fiber. Make sure to avoid fatty foods, extra sweet foods, and caffeine …
… These can cause spikes in your blood sugar, which can lead to sugar levels drop rapidly during the game.
How important is water, especially for a night soccer game?
Drinking plenty of water is always a good idea. Being fully hydrated is necessary to perform at the required level and avoid potential endurance problems.
If you are just moderately hydrated (about 2 – 4 % of body weight), this can lead to performance decrease, as your endurance may drop up to 30%.
But important is not to get carried away. Drinking water right before the game can cause discomfort in your stomach, or maybe even cramps.
In order to avoid this, but achieve full hydration, you should drink plenty of water 45 minutes before the game. That is the amount of time your body takes to process the water intake, so you can get it out of your system before the game starts.
Keep in mind to drink around a gallon of water per day. Prior to the game (45 minutes before), you should drink around 600ml of water.
Meal examples …
1. Chicken Pesto with Vegetables
This is easy-to-make chicken salad, with a huge health boost from vegetables like broccoli and cherry tomatoes. One portion is 380 calories, approximately 47g of protein, 17g of carbs and 13g of fat. Cook chicken with salt and garlic powder in a fry pan or wok, around 2 minutes to each side. When it is ready, remove it to the plate.
Add broccoli, tomatoes and garlic to a fry pan, and cook it for around 3 minutes. Add chicken again, with 2 tbsp of pesto sauce. Mix for a minute and salad is ready to serve. Easy to make, protein rich and light meals.
2. Chicken Avocado Burrito Wrap
Healthy and tasteful meal, rich in protein. There are 315 calories in a portion, from which 34% (17g) are proteins. Total fat amounts at 33%, while carbs 5%.
Mix the shredded chicken, cheese and diced avocado. Lay a tortilla on a plate and add ¼ of the mixture, and then form a roll.
Place 4 tortilla wraps in a heated pan and cook for 2 minutes. Turn to the other side and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. That is it. Delicious, healthy and protein rich meal is ready.
3. Turkey Bolognese
Traditional Italian Bolognese, with turkey instead of beef, in order to achieve faster digestion. Calorie amount per plate is around 300 calories, with 41g of protein, 4g of carbohydrate and 13g total fat.
Add garlic, celery and onions, mixed with turkey to the pan and cook for a few minutes, until it is no longer of pink color. You can add mixed herbs to the mixture.
Add little wine and stir for a while. Add tomato juice and leave it for around 60 minutes, until the sauce has become thick. Once the sauce is ready, mix it with prepared pasta and add some vegetables to the side.
Quantity of food to not exceed …
The quantity of food you should take before the night game depends on how many hours are between your meal and a game.
As we said, it takes around 3 to 4 hours for your body to properly process food and get the most of your food intake.
If this is the case, you should have a large meal of around 600 calories, rich with carbohydrates. Everything above it would be overeating.
In addition, you should avoid eating an hour before the game. If that is the case, then you must not exceed the amount of 200 – 300 calories.
The best choice of food in this case would be some protein shake or yogurt, as these types of food would your body process much faster.
Eating more than described could lead to poor performance and other repercussions:
- Having a large amount of food in our body during the game, especially at night, requires more energy than usual to secure appropriate digestion. To facilitate the digestion process, your body would direct blood flow to your stomach. The increased blood flow toward digestive organs reduces the level of blood present in the large muscle groups, especially legs and arms. Having less blood means less energy in our legs and not enough muscle contraction. This leads to underperforming, as we are not capable of running and kicking at the maximum level.
- Having more than the advised quantity of food in the stomach can cause discomfort to the players during the game. As our body is not capable of efficiently digesting the food while running, playing soccer in this scenario can cause stomach cramps and aches, as well as gastrointestinal distress.
- Overeating may disrupt your leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite. If you eat too much, you disturb your normal leptin levels. In that case, you can enter an overeating cycle, which can lead to weight gain.
Should you consider that even as a goalie?
Goalkeepers cover smaller distances during the game. Considering the difference in distance covered, goalkeepers do not have the same need for glycogen reserves, which are available in carbohydrates.
Taking into account their need for better body composition, goalkeepers tend to build more mass, so they benefit from higher intake of proteins and less carbohydrates than other in-field players do.
With lesser energy consumption, approximately 16% – 20% less, the caloric value of their nutrition should be lower for that amount.
Does this apply to both winter & summer – or is there a difference?
In winter months, nights are much colder and it is harder for your body to keep itself both energized and warm.
Due to this, nutrition during the winter should be a little heavier than during summer months. Including more meat, like beef, seafood and fish will help your body produce extra energy needed to warm up.
In addition, increase the quantity of root vegetables, such as potatoes, onions and garlic. This food is a great choice for boosting your immune system, and it will increase your energy level.
Final Thoughts: What time is considered too later for a soccer game?
Considering the duration of the soccer match, anything that starts after 9pm is too late. This is due to several reasons:
- Players need their sleeping time. They tend to have their 8-hour sleep, and finishing the game too late may interrupt their sleep cycle, making them not ready for morning routine and training sessions.
- Late night games leave little time for post-game recovery.
- After-game routine often includes a cold bath to relax muscles, followed by eating some foods rich in carbohydrates and protein, such as milkshakes, soup, yogurt or sandwich. Eating too late can disrupt quality of sleep, as late-night digesting will influence your sleeping cycle.