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Cal South E-News | October 2010 NUTRITION EDUCATION

October 22, 2010

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Nutrition Education provided by Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
Click to learn more about "Good Eats for Soccer"

Nutrition Tricks and Delicious Treats for Soccer Players

By Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.

With Halloween just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to write about nutrition tricks for soccer and also share some delicious treats that soccer players might enjoy.

Good nutrition starts with healthy food choices every day but serious athletes have to consider some attention to details to maximize the benefits of nutrition on performance. Here are four "tricks" for getting the most out of your body when playing competitive soccer.

  1. Consume ¾ cup of water or a sports drink every 15-20 minutes during a soccer game to reduce dehydration. Dehydration is the most common cause of declining performance during the second half of a soccer match. Having squirt bottles available around the touchline so players can get a drink during substitutions and having a good drink during half time are two ways that dehydration can be reduced.
  2. Eat high-glycemic index fruits during half time to benefit from increased available carbohydrates near the end of a game. Fruits with high-glycemic index are the most quickly absorbed into the blood stream, providing an additional source of energy to muscles. Some of those near the top are watermelon (72), pineapple (66), cantaloupe (65), banana (52), and grapes (48). Oranges are convenient and delicious but have a glycemic index of 44.
  3. A post game high carbohydrate snack over time will increase the body's ability to store glycogen and eventually increase stamina. Over my years of watching competitive soccer and helping teams improve their nutrition this is the most neglected recommendation. Bring on the nutrition bars, fruit, smoothies and pretzels!
  4. Eat a healthy breakfast everyday. Morning time is another moment when the body is looking to replenish and ready to be energized. A healthy breakfast makes you a better athlete and a better student too.


The autumn harvest brings foods that are particularly nutritious. Consider the vitamin A content of pumpkin, yams and winter squashes; the vitamin C content of potatoes and cranberries, and the all around goodness of food such as apples and legumes that become part of our diet at this time of year. Here are a few recommendations for adding these foods into your diet and a favorite recipe to try.

Quick, healthy and delicious

  1. Add canned pumpkin to your pancake mix - ½ cup for each 12 4" pancake recipe.
  2. Cut up 2 fresh apples into ½ inch cubes. Heat on the stove with ¼ cup water, ½ tsp. cinnamon and 1 tbsp. sugar or maple syrup for about 10 minutes. Serve with breakfast or use to top ice cream.
  3. Throw a spoonful of pumpkin seeds (pepitas) over breakfast cereal.
  4. Use canned baked beans or refried beans as a nutritious high-carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat side dish for a meal.
  5. Bring Halloween-themed pretzels as a post game snack.

This recipe is winner for its delicious flavor and packed nutrition content. Consider bringing this as a special post-game snack.

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup water
  • ¾ cup raisins

  1. In a small bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, vanilla; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin.
  3. Alternately stir in flour mixture and water just until smooth. Stir in raisins.
  4. Spoon into muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  5. Bake in 350°F oven for 30 - 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then let cool on a rack. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

Recipe modified from: Anne Lindsay, Lighthearted Everyday Cooking. ©1991.

©Selina Lai, M.S., R.D., Nutrition Tricks and Delicious Treats for Soccer Players, 2010. Please contact the author at selina@goodeatsforsoccer.com with questions, comments and for reprint permission.

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 recently published 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.

Visit www.goodeatsforsoccer.com for more information or her blog at http://goodeatsforsoccer.wordpress.com/