Being a top athlete on the soccer pitch takes hard work in the gym and on the field. But to stay at your best, you’ll also need to concentrate on what you’re eating on a daily basis.
Soccer players burn a huge amount of energy by running around the field so much, which means you need to make sure you’re giving your body what it needs to recover and get out there again. So we asked Alice Richer, team nutritionist and consultant dietician for the Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, to explain how anyone—from a rec-league player to an aspiring pro—can make sure they’re bringing their best game in the kitchen.
“The best thing athletes can do for themselves is get down to basics,” Richer says. “Cook for yourself as much as you can, and be really aware of what’s in your food. Right now there’s so much more information available about what is in your food and can help you make strong decisions.”
Yes, even MLS players face temptation from junk food and snacks.
“I always tell players to focus on carbs, and to eat a lot more fruits and vegetables,” Richer says. “Most of a soccer player’s daily calories need to come from carb sources that provide energy so they don’t get fatigued on the field. It’s just as important to have protein, but not to overdo it—young men tend to think protein is the most important thing. Yes, it is important—but you can load too much on that, so I try to teach them to mix it up.”
Richer spoke with Men’s Journal about some of the best foods for soccer players to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and when you’re craving a snack. Here’s a look at her top nutritional suggestions.