Nutrition, Science

UOIT Ridgeback’s Women’s Soccer Fitness Coach Tip of the Day – Day 8 – Carbohydrates

The Canadian University Soccer season is here, and this year marks my 3rd season as Assistant Coach and Fitness Coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) Ridgebacks Women’s Varsity Soccer Team.  This season, I will be blogging every day with a ‘Tip of the Day’ – a small piece of information about the testing, training, monitoring, or performance analysis I am doing with the team.

Today’s Tip of the Day is about carbohydrate consumption.  In elite level soccer, players’ average heart rates during intense training sessions and almost all games will typically be between 160 and 180 beats per minute (BPM).  At this intensity, the only nutrient the body can oxidize to produce fuel is muscle and/or liver glycogen, its stored form of carbohydrate (fat cannot be used as an energy source for higher intensity activities such as soccer).  Complex carbohydrates (starches) are the most efficient type of carbohydrate to be used as energy, because they last much longer in the body than simple carbohydrates (sugars).  Thus complex carbohydrates must be a staple of the diet of all high level soccer players.

While a steady intake of complex carbohydrates throughout the day is most ideal (1g of carbohydrate per kilogram of the athlete’s body weight per hour is a commonly recommended dose), in general, elite level soccer players should aim to consume 10-12 servings of complex carbohydrates per day.  When carbohydrate intake is broken down into meals, this number equates to 3-4 servings per meal.  A serving size is roughly equal to 1/4 of a regular sized bowl or dinner plate.  As an example, here is what the carbohydrate consumption in a day with three meals would look like:

  • Breakfast: 2 pieces of toast, 1 bowl of cereal (3 servings in total)
  • Lunch: large bowl of pasta (4 servings in total)
  • Dinner: large dish of rice, potatoes (5 servings in total)
  • Total number of servings: 12

Soccer players who consume 10-12 servings of complex carbohydrates per day can rest assured that they have provided their bodies with enough fuel to last for the entire duration of the day’s (and the next day’s) activities.  Any player aspiring to get to the university level or beyond should make sure they are prepared by fueling their body with the right amount of carbohydrates each day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

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