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6. 4. 2012.

Daily diet advices in soccer

First of all, soccer players must ensure that they take in the right amount of energy. There are no fixed rules for this, because energy consumption can vary widely from person to person. The percentage of fat in the body is the best indicator of whether energy intake and energy consumption are in equilibrium. As long as this factor remains stable, the energy balance is in equilibrium. Soccer players have to train and play almost every day. The glycogen reserves are drawn on regularly and can therefore become exhausted. It is of great importance to top up the reserves completely again with 24 hours. The next day is a player expected to play a good match or to give 100 percent during training sessions. This is only possible with maximum glycogen reserves. Glycogen is formed from glucose molecules that originate in the carbohydrates in a player’s diet.  Glycogen cannot be formed from fat, and it can only be formed to a small extent from protein. It follows that the rate at which the glycogen reserve is replenished is in inverse proportion to the amount of fat and protein in the player’s diet. Expressed in terms of fuel, it is obvious that you should not put diesel in the tank of an automobile that runs on petrol. If the body uses energy derived from carbohydrates, then it needs regular refills of carbohydrate-rich food.

The daily diet(breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) of most people in the Netherlands consists of 45% carbohydrates, 40% fat and 15% proteins. This is not sufficient to completely replenish a soccer player’s exhausted glycogen  reserves within 24 hours. The proportion of carbohydrates must be increased and the percentage of fat reduced. This was illustrated by a study of the players of Malmo FF during their preparations for a UEFA Cup match. After the team played a league game on Sunday, the players’ glycogen reserves were down to about 25% on average.  In the days between this match and the coming UEFA Cup game(on the following Wednesday evening), the players’  dietary patterns were recorded and their glycogen reserves had only recovered to 39% of maximum by the Tuesday. No further measurements were carried out on the Wednesday, as this would have disrupted the team’s preparations. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the levels of glycogen reserves of the Swedish players were only half of what they should have been. The players of Malmo FF were thus far from ideally prepared for a UEFA Cup game. The indications are that many (professional) soccer players have a similar dietary pattern.

In short, a soccer player must eat more carbohydrates than he uses. The precise percentages differ from playing level to playing level. The higher the level, the higher the proportion of carbohydrates must be. The protein content of a player’s diet should always be around 10-15%. The measure that is often applied is 1.2-1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Maximum amount allowed is 1.9-2 grams per kilogram, but not recommendable for ideal proportions. The excess is simply discharged from the body or stored as energy. During periods when the emphasis is on weight training, the protein content should be increased to 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. After all, muscles need building blocks to become stronger. The fat intake of players at higher levels must be restricted. An increase in the fat percentage has a negative effect on performance capacity. After all, muscles need building blocks to become stronger. The fat intake of players at higher levels must be restricted. An increase in the fat percentage has a negative effect on performance capacity(sprint capacity). Following table can explain some things.

Playing level
Professional soccer
Top class amateur
2nd class amateur
5th class amateur
18 year old juniors

Percentages on their own do not reveal very much. They are always percentages of “something”. In this case “something” is the total amount of energy intake. During busy periods of season, players generally use more energy because they have to play more games. They need to step up the amount of carbohydrates they eat in the intervals between training sessions and games, because it is then more important to replenish the glycogen reserves. It is also essential that players who are ill or injured, and who therefore carry out less conditioning work for requirement. The same applies to all players during the winter and summer breaks. If they neglect to do so, their weight and fat percentage will increase unnecessarily.

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