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The right nutrition can significantly improve an athlete’s performance, which is why a good diet is crucial on game day. On game day, it is better to get up earlier rather than later and to have a rich breakfast. A good choice for breakfast is muesli or granola with different kinds of whole grains. Dried fruit, which can then be mixed with milk or quark (a low-fat, fresh soft cheese that his high in protein) and topped with nuts and berries can also be a good choice. These whole grains and fruit are full of complex carbohydrates that are filling and provide energy. (See our article “Recommended Nutrition for Soccer Players” for more on the benefits of complex carbohydrates.) In addition, quark and milk supply the body with protein, while nuts provide additional protein as well as healthy fats and essential minerals.

What should your players eat?

For lunch whole grain pasta is a great choice and can be combined with a number of things, such as chicken breast, tomato sauce and vegetables. You can round out the meal with a small salad, for example of tomatoes and cucumbers, with a light dressing such as oil and vinegar. The best choice for dessert is dark chocolate with over 70% cocoa or a handful of dried fruit. Whole grain pasta is another great source of complex carbohydrates and therefore stabilizes blood sugar levels. Chicken breast is a lean source of protein, whereas the vegetables and salad are rich in essential vitamins and simple sugars that improve the body’s ability to process nutrients. Dark chocolate contains a lot of antioxidants because of the high percentage of cocoa, which promotes healthy cells needed for physical strain, just like the minerals in dried fruit. Additionally, dried fruit contains fiber and healthy sugar that is processed slowly and therefore doesn’t cause an abrupt spike in blood pressure levels.

Recommendations closer to the game

Once game preparation begins, players shouldn’t eat any more meals or large snacks. Just before kick-off, players can have an energy-boosting snack, such as a granola bar. The simple carbohydrates provide a quick blood sugar boost. At half-time, we recommend that players drink tea with some sugar, glucose, and a bit of salt. Sugar provides the necessary energy for the second half, whereas salt is rich in minerals and helps prevent muscle cramps.

After the game, players need simple carbohydrates again to re-fill depleted reserves, which can be found in foods and drinks such as white bread or grape juice. Whey protein is also great for just after a match, as it helps to stimulate the body’s regeneration process. For the last meal of the day, an ideal choice would be fish, potatoes, spinach, and eggs. These foods are rich in protein that is easiest for the body to absorb and digest. The fats in fish have a healthy and regenerative effect on the body and potatoes provide necessary carbohydrates. Spinach helps process protein and is rich in iron. It is full of important minerals that support muscle and metabolism functions.

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