If you play soccer, you know how much energy, stamina and skill it takes to perform well. That’s why you need to know the best snacks for soccer players so you can fuel well before, during and after a game.
As a dietitian and a soccer mom, I have some tips and suggestions to help you choose the best snacks for soccer players.
Not only are these snacks good for individual players, but you can also have these ready as a soccer team snack for any hungry player.
Keep reading to learn how to plan healthy snacks for soccer so you can fuel your optimal performance.
Best snacks for soccer players pre-game: energizing start
The goal of a pre-game soccer snack is to provide enough carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar levels stable and prevent fatigue. (1) Ideally, the best snacks for soccer players are high in carbohydrates.
This is because carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for your muscles and brain during exercise.
You also want to include some protein to support your muscle growth and repair,and some healthy fats to keep you satisfied.
However, you should avoid foods that are high in fat and fiber as they can cause digestive issues eaten too close to game time.
Instead, choose foods that are tried and true before games. When you want to try new foods, do that on a rest day or a practice day.
Pre game snack ideas (1-2 hours before)
These healthy footballer snacks provide a quick energy boost without causing digestive discomfort.
Here’s a variety of creative ideas for this crucial time period:
Pasta salad: A cold pasta salad with vegetables and a light dressing provides a carb-rich meal option to sustain footballers during the game.
Banana and nut butter: Slicing a banana and adding a smear of nut butter, like almond or peanut butter, gives a balance of carbs and healthy fats, offering sustained energy.
Trail mix: A mix of dried fruits, nuts, and a touch of chocolate offers a satisfying blend of carbs, protein, and fats, perfect for footballers.
Oatmeal with honey: A warm bowl of oatmeal with a drizzle of honey is a comforting source of complex carbs, providing lasting energy for the match.
Turkey and cheese tortilla roll-ups: Footballers can roll turkey slices and cheese together with a whole grain tortilla for a protein-carb combo that’s easy to eat, ensuring they’re fueled and ready to play.
Whole wheat english muffin with jam: A toasted whole-wheat English muffin with your favorite jam provides carbs with a touch of sweetness, ideal for sustaining energy on the field.
Fruit salad: A colorful assortment of fresh fruits like berries, melon, and citrus is a refreshing high-carb option that hydrates and provides essential vitamins.
Bagel with cream cheese: Choosing a whole-grain bagel and smearing on some cream cheese offers a balance of carbs and protein to keep footballers energized.
Yogurt parfait: You can layer Greek yogurt with granola and fresh berries for a carb-protein mix that supports performance during the game.
Raisin bread and peanut butter: A slice of raisin bread offers natural sugars and carbs for sustained energy, ensuring footballers are ready to give their best on the field. Add a smear of peanut butter or your favorite nut butter to curb your hunger.
You should aim to eat your pre-game snack about 1 to 2 hours before the game, depending on your tolerance and preference. You should also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Fuel top-off: boosting stamina
Approximately 30 minutes before the game begins, it’s essential to top off your energy stores and give yourself a final boost with quick and easily digestible snacks.
High-carb options for best soccer snacks (30 minutes before game time)
Fruit snacks/gummies: Energy gummies, fruit snacks or fruit bars are an excellent choice, providing a burst of easily digestible carbs for that last-minute energy kick.
Granola bars: To sustain energy, opt for bars with whole grains and low protein content.
Graham crackers: These simple carbs are gentle on the stomach and provide quick energy to footballers.
Goldfish crackers: These fun snacks, enjoyed by all ages, offer carbs in a playful form.
Pretzels: Being low in fat and quick to digest, pretzels provide a salty and carb-rich option.
Fig bars: Packed with natural sugars, fig bars are a tasty source of carbohydrates.
Applesauce: This convenient option is rich in carbs and easy to digest, perfect for soccer players and a great soccer team snack idea.
Watermelon: With its high water content keeping athletes hydrated, its natural sugars provide quick energy.
Sports drink: Footballers can sip on a sports drink before the game and at halftime to replenish electrolytes and get a carb boost for the second half.
Halftime (mid-game refueling): staying strong
As the halftime whistle blows and soccer players take a moment to catch their breath, and also to refuel and recharge for the second half.
These high-carb options are easily digestible and provide the necessary energy boost to keep players performing at their best.
Halftime high carb recommendations
Pretzels: Light and salty, pretzels offer quick carbs without weighing you down.
Crackers: Whole grain crackers are an excellent choice, providing carbs and fiber for sustained energy.
Goldfish crackers: These fish-shaped crackers are not only fun but also packed with carbs to keep you going strong.
Animal crackers: Light and sweet, animal crackers provide a source of quick carbs.
Granola bars: Opt for granola bars with whole grains and minimal added sugar to maintain energy levels.
Fig bar: These chewy delights offer a balance of carbs and natural sweetness, perfect for halftime.
Dried fruit: Options like mango, cherries, cranberries, and raisins are energy-dense and convenient, making them excellent choices for soccer players.
Fresh fruit: Consider orange slices, bananas, grapes, and watermelon for a refreshing burst of natural sugars and hydration.
Applesauce: Portable and packed with carbs, applesauce is an easy-to-consume option for halftime.
Sports drinks: Sipping on a sports drink helps replace lost electrolytes and provides a quick carb boost.
Fruit snacks: These bite-sized treats are a hit among soccer players, offering a tasty source of carbs.
Sport chews: Designed for athletes, sport chews provide easily digestible carbs for a quick energy boost.
During halftime, soccer players should grab their preferred high-carb snacks to refuel and hydrate, ensuring they have the energy and stamina needed for the second half of the game.
Remember to stay hydrated with water or sports drinks, and choose halftime snacks that sit well with your stomach to keep you at the top of your game.
Post-Game: Recovery Powerhouses
After the final whistle, footballers should prioritize snacks that aid recovery by replenishing glycogen stores and promoting muscle repair.
High carb + protein recover post game snacks
- Chocolate milk: A classic choice, combining carbs and protein for recovery, perfect for footballers.
- Rice krispy treat: Enjoy this sweet and crispy option for quick carbs to replenish energy.
- Pre-made smoothie with fresh berries: Blending berries with yogurt or milk offers a refreshing and carb-rich recovery drink for footballers.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread: A hearty and satisfying option that combines carbs, protein, and healthy fats, ideal for post-game recovery.
- Low-fat Greek yogurt: Soccer players can opt for this protein and carb packed snack to support muscle recovery.
- Apple juice and bagel with almond butter: The juice offers quick carbs, and almond butter provides a dose of healthy fats and protein.
- Granola bars: For sustained energy, footballers can choose bars with whole grains and minimal added sugar.
- String cheese and crackers: A combination of protein and carbs is perfect for muscle repair and refueling after the game.
- Tart cherry juice and energy bar: Tart cherry juice may aid in muscle recovery, and energy bars offer quick carbs to replenish footballers’ energy.
- Fresh fruit: Options like apple slices, orange slices, and watermelon provide natural sugars and hydration for footballers.
- Dried fruit: Options like mango, cherries, cranberries, and raisins are energy-dense and convenient, making them excellent choices for footballers.
- Sports drinks: Footballers can consider a recovery sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost during the game.
Snacking is an important part of soccer nutrition, as it can help you optimize your performance and recovery.
By choosing the best snacks for soccer players for different situations, you can ensure that you have enough energy to play your best game and to recover well.
However, these are general guidelines and you may need to adjust them according to your individual needs and preferences.
Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns about soccer nutrition, reach out to a sports registered dietitian nutritionist.
Please share this post with your friends and teammates who may also benefit from it.
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Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.