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 protein. Considered the “building block” of muscle, protein is made up of smaller compounds called amino acids, which enter the blood stream through the diet, and help the body repair and grow muscle tissue. There are 9 “essential” amino acids, which the body cannot synthesize, and thus must be provided through diet. Animal protein, such as chicken, beef, pork, and also fish and eggs, contain all 9 essential amino acids and are thus the most efficient sources of protein. Other plant based foods, such as nuts and seeds, beans, tofu, and certain vegetables, as well as dairy foods like milk and cheese, contain some but not all of the 9 essential amino acids. These types of food can be eaten in combination (for example, nuts and cheese) to get all of the amino acids the body needs.
In elite level soccer, muscle damage caused by the repetitive load of training and games can accumulate fairly rapidly. Soccer players must consume a daily amount of protein that will allow them to repair this muscle damage, as well as to help their muscles grow bigger and stronger to be able to withstand the future training/game loads. In general, soccer players should aim to consume 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, a female soccer player who weighs 65 kilograms, should consume 130 grams of protein per day.
In a typical 3 meal per day diet, this amount of required protein can be consumed as follows:
- Breakfast: 2 eggs (26g protein); glass of milk (5g protein); toast with peanut butter (15g of protein)
- Total Breakfast protein: 46g
- Lunch: turkey sandwich with cheese (30g protein); chicken salad with nuts and beans (30g protein)
- Total Lunch protein: 60g
- Dinner: steak (25g protein); cup of yogurt (10g protein)
- Total Dinner protein: 35g
- Total daily protein intake = 46 + 60 + 35 = 141g
Any soccer player aspiring to play university, professional, or national team level soccer should look to follow these guidelines to make sure they are getting the adequate amount of daily protein.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.