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Cal South E-News | September 2012 NUTRITION EDUCATION

September 20, 2012

Nutrition Information content
provided by
Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
To Snack or Not to Snack? That is the Question...
By Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.

I recently received an email from a concerned soccer parent asking if it was necessary to continue giving halftime snacks to her son's U13 club soccer team. There was contention among the parents as to whether or not it was needed now that the players were getting older and they didn't think having a halftime snack would improve the team's performance. So this month I will share with you some of the evidence supporting the consumption of a halftime snack to improve performance and reduce injuries in the second half of a soccer game.

Carbohydrates During a Game
Let me start with the basics… a carbohydrate is a sugar. It can be in a long chain (often called complex), like those found in bread, rice or pasta, or as a single or double molecule (often called a simple sugar), like those found in table sugar, fruit, or milk. As you might imagine, a simple sugar is absorbed more quickly than a complex carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates provide fuel for muscles, especially for quick, intense physical activity, like that seen in soccer. Athletes store a very limited amount of carbohydrates in their muscles and liver (called glycogen) which is broken down and used for fuel during exercise. Once an athlete uses up this glycogen, the human body will begin to find other sources of energy, namely fatty acids and protein. Research over the past several decades (starting in the 1970s) has found that athletes who consume small amounts of carbohydrate during a long exercise event (60 minutes or more) have more endurance than those athletes that do not. The recommended consumption of carbohydrate is 30-60 grams per hour. How much is that?

30 grams of carbohydrate chart
2 cups of most sports drinks
2 cups of cut up melon
1 cup of other fruits (grapes, pineapple, oranges)
1 cup of chocolate milk

Will Consuming Carbohydrate During a Game Always Reduce Fatigue?
There are times when consuming carbohydrates during a game won't make a difference. A notable exception is when the exercise is LESS THAN 1 HOUR long. Another exception is when a player's fatigue is due to dehydration. Drinking adequate fluid in the hours before a match is very important for reducing fatigue and injury during a match of any length. In soccer, there are limited opportunities for fluid consumption once players are on the field so having a half-time snack which provides fluid along with carbohydrate helps prevent dehydration later in the game.

Specific guidelines for fluid consumption can be found at this link from the American College of Sports Medicine.

More ideas: Halftime Snacks for Soccer

To read more about the support for carbohydrate and fluid consumption during exercise, check out this research review by Edward Coyle from the University of Texas.

Nutritionally Yours,
Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.

P.S. Send me your nutrition questions, and I will use them for my blog!

Reprinted with permission from www.goodeatsforsoccer.wordpress.com,
©Selina Lai, M.S., R.D., 2012.
Contact: selina@goodeatforsoccer.com, www.goodeatsforsoccer.com

About the Author: Selina Lai has been a Registered Dietitian for 20 years. She studied Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of British Columbia and California State University, Long Beach. She has worked as a nutrition educator with a wide range of clients. Her book "Good Eats for Soccer - Nutrition Choices for Competitive Youth Soccer" focuses on diet modifications for the moderate to high intensity physical demands of youth soccer players during tournaments.

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