Nutrition should be an important consideration in your pregame preparations, during the match and postgame activities. Being able to eat and hydrate effectively can be the difference between a good and bad performance. Unlike many other aspects of soccer, nutrition is tangible. You can control what you eat and drink before, during and after games. But there are so many various energy drinks and other material in this area, what should you be eating and drinking?
Pregame you want primarily carbohydrates, such as, pasta. If possible between 2-3 hours before a game you should eat a meal with a plate that is comprised of half carbohydrates, one quarter protein (like chicken) and then one quarter vegetables. As you get nearer to competition you should stay away from solid foods and try to seek carbohydrates from sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade or other isotonic drinks. Energy drinks often lead to heavy crashes in energy, so be careful how you use them.
During the game, you generally want to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade. Usually 2-4 cups of Gatorade at half time is sufficient. Furthermore, consuming a protein bar can also be a good way to reenergize at half time. On a warmer day you should be sure to hydrate as much as you can throughout the game. On weekends with multiple games, like tournaments, you should be hydrating consistently to ensure you can perform to your maximum ability.
Post-game you should eat within an hour of the game. Your post game meal should compromise of a plate with half protein, one quarter carbohydrates and one quarter vegetables. A plate primarily of protein (chicken, fish, other meat) is important to provide the right nutrients for muscles to repair and recover. A lot of people disregard the importance of the post-game meal and rather have pizza or a burger but this can seriously delay your physical recovery. Again, if you are playing multiple games over a weekend, how you recover can make the large difference in your performances.