Some players love their sweets and treats, and others feel that a good soccer or sports diets means no sweets whatsoever. The truth is a good sports diet can include a reasonable amount of treats. Below is some advice on how to balance sweets and treats in to your sports diet. The information is taken from Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes From the Pros by Nancy Clark and Gloria Averbuch.
Although nutritionists recommend eating a wholesome diet based on grains, fruits, and vegetables, some soccer athletes eat a diet with too many sweets and treats. If you have a junk-food diet, you may be able to easily correct this imbalance by eating more wholesome foods before you get too hungry. Athletes who get too hungry (or who avoid carbohydrates) tend to refuel with too many sugary, fatty foods (such as apple pie, instead of apples).
A simple solution to the junk-food diet is to prevent hunger by eating heartier portions of wholesome foods at meals. And once you replace sweets with more wholesome choices (including whole grain carbs), your craving for sweets will diminish.
Take note: You need not eat a "perfect diet" (no fats, no sugar) to have a good diet. Nothing is nutritionally wrong with having something sweet, such as a cookie, for dessert after having eaten a sandwich, milk, and fruit for lunch. But a lot is wrong with eating cookies for lunch and skipping the sandwich. That's when both nutrition and performance problems arise.
The key to balancing fats and sugars appropriately in your diet is to abide the following guidelines:
- 10 percent of your calories can appropriately come from refined sugar (about 200-300 calories from sugar per day for most soccer players).
- 25 percent of your calories can appropriately come from (preferably healthful) fat (about 450-750 calories from fat per day, or roughly 50-85 grams of fat per day). Hence, moderate amounts of chips, cookies, and ice cream can fit into an overall healthful food plan, if desired.
Need Some Help Shaping Up Your Diet?
If you want personalized dietary advice, Nancy Clark recommends you seek professional advice from a registered dietitian (RD) who specializes in sports nutrition and, ideally, is Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).
To find a sports nutritionist in your area, use the referral networks at the American Dietetic Association's website (www.eatright.org) or the website of ADA's practice group of sports dietitians (www.SCANdpg.org). Or try googling "sports nutritionist, (your city)." You'll be glad you did! This personal nutrition coach can help you win with good nutrition. Better yet, consider doing this on a teamwide basis, and get group nutrition analysis and education.