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Soccer Energy-How Carbs Affect Performance on the Field Part 2

by Taylor Tollison

Nutrition plays a critical part in an athleteís success on the field. Donít feed them right and youíll have a sluggish player who may never reach his or her potential.

In part one we talked about possibly hiring a sports nutritionist to learn how to feed the athlete. I don't want it to sound like you have to rush out and hire your own personal nutritionist to be a successful athlete because you don't. But it can be helpful on a club level to bring more in depth knowledge and education. For now, we'll just talk about starting with your first smart eating decision-eating enough carbs.

Out of three major Macronutrients which should I mostly eat?

Carbohydrates are the foundation that you want to build your nutrition program on. It is the macronutrient you should get the most of. The macronutrients are fat, protein and carbohydrates. The body needs carbohydrates to optimally perform in sports. Now donít rush out and buy a pack of doughnuts. That is not the way to feed your athlete and you'll be dumb :). You should still try to make healthy choices. A good solid number to start with (for a healthy soccer athlete) is about 60-70% of the food you eat coming from carbs.

I wish I remember the exact study so Iíll go off memory. I read a study a while ago that compared soccer players who fueled their bodies with enough carbs and another group that did not. The group that got enough carbs in their system covered about 25% more distance on the field than the other group. Pretty significant?  I think so.

When we consider having enough energy to compete at a high level, you almost have to put a focus above just fitness training. In this article we considered carbohydrates. You also need to consider if the athletes are getting enough sleep, recovering properly after a previous match or practice, getting enough rest, are they exercising too much outside of practice and matches that they look run down.

As a coach, parent and player you need to take a holistic approach to the athlete. Itís not only for performance reasons but also for health and safety. In the next article we will consider the affect of sleep on performance.