If you’re a world-class soccer player like the ladies of the USWNT, then you’re on a whole other level as far as sports nutrition goes. During one world cup game, each player will run up to seven miles. On top of this, the team will travel for up to a month across Canada from stadium to stadium for as many as seven games. That requires some serious menu planning. While the team does, of course, have a qualified nutritionist on board, options are also on the menu. For protein, the athletes stick mostly to chicken and fish for faster absorption and easier digestion, but eggs are also a big favorite with the team, especially as a pre-game fuel-up meal. With the demands of such a grueling sport such as soccer, you need to fuel your body for endurance before a game, but not eat too much that it will slow you down on the pitch. That’s why Wingback Kelley O’Hara will eat a large meal “four hours before a game,” to give her body time to digest. She says, “I don’t like feeling full when I start a game.” Her teammates agree. Three to four hours before a game, Forward Sydney Leroux and Defender Ali Krieger like to fuel up on fried eggs and pancakes. But for Midfielder Lauren Holiday, it’s a “turkey sandwich with avocado and any sort of fruit medley.” Whatever you settle on for your pre-game meal, just make sure to remain consistent with your nutrition during competition. It’s never a good idea to try something new when you’re in the peak of your season. Any little change can affect your body to the point that it will impact your sports performance. CLICK TO VIEW THE IDEAL BAG FOR SOCCER PLAYERS: THE POWER DUFFEL Hydration is also a very key factor. To make sure you’re properly hydrated before a game, the Sport Nutrition Advisory Committee recommends drinking “5-7 mL of fluid per kg of body weight (about 300-500 mL) 4 hours prior.” It’s all about finding a balance between how much you eat and how hard you train, and getting the timing right so your meal times coincide with your training and game schedule. Nourishing your body with the right amount of calories and the correct balance of nutrients, vitamins and minerals at the right time of the day is vital to how far you can push your body, how well you’ll perform and how quickly you recover game after game after game. For the US Women’s National Team nothing is left to chance. Every morning they are weighed and checked for signs of dehydration, as well as being outfitted with GPS and heart monitors to keep track of their physical expenditure. With all this information at hand, the players’ diet can be tweaked and the coaches can adapt game strategy as the tournament amps up towards the final. After their 2-0 win over Germany, the USWNT are well on their way to the World Cup Final. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
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