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Nutrition on match day

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What players should eat on match day is a frequently asked question in sports nutrition. The recommendation from the available evidence is that players should eat a high-carbohydrate meal about 3 h before the match. This may be breakfast when the matches are played around midday, lunch for late afternoon matches, and an early dinner when matches are played late in the evening. The combination of a high-carbohydrate pre-match meal and a sports drink, ingested during the match, results in a greater exercise capacity than a high-carbohydrate meal alone. There is evidence to suggest that there are benefits to a pre-match meal that is composed of low-glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrate foods rather than high-GI foods. A low-GI pre-match meal results in feelings of satiety for longer and produces a more stable blood glucose concentration than after a high-GI meal. There are also some reports of improved endurance capacity after low-GI carbohydrate pre-exercise meals. The physical demands of soccer training and match-play draw heavily on players' carbohydrate stores and so the benefits of good nutritional practices for performance and health should be an essential part of the education of players, coaches, and in particular the parents of young players.
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Keywords: Soccer; carbohydrates; exercise capacity; fatigue; football; glycaemic index

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK 2: Department of Sports Medicine, Real Madrid Football Club, Madrid, Spain

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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