By eating grains, fruits and vegetables as the foundation of each meal and healthy eating plan, you'll consume about 55 to 65% of your calories from carbohydrates. This is exactly what you need for a high-energy sports diet.
These carbohydrates are stored in muscles in the form of glycogen and provide the energy you need for performing on the soccer field.
Grain foods are a popular source of carbohydrates for most soccer athletes.healthy eating plan The exceptions are the weight-conscious athletes who believe they will get fat if they eat breads, cereals and pastas at each meal. False. Carbohydrates are not fattening; excess calories are fattening. (See Chapter 14 for an explanation of calorie needs.)
Fruits and vegetables are also excellent sources of carbohydrates. But some players have trouble figuring out how to consume the recommended daily 2 cups (500 g) of fruits and 2 cups (600 g) of vegetables. As one 22-year-old sheepishly remarked, "I'm lucky if I eat that much in a week." The trick is to eat large portions. Most soccer players can easily enjoy a banana (counts as one cup fruit) and 8 ounces (one cup) of orange juice in the morning.healthy eating plan chef That’s already the minimal 2 cups of fruit for the day! A big bowl of salad filled with colorful tomato, carrot, and pepper can account for the minimal recommended 2 cups of vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are truly nature's vitamin pills, chock full of vitamin C (to help with healing), beta-carotene (to protect against cancer), fiber (to aid with regular bowel movements), and numerous other vitamins and minerals. The sidebar, Eat More Veggies! Offers suggestions for ways to boost your veggie intake simply.
Eat More Veggies!
If you struggle to consume the recommended two to three servings of vegetables per day, the following tips may help you to enhance your vegetable intake — and your health.
• Eat more of the best vegetables, less of the rest.healthy food diet plans In general, colorful dark green, deep yellow, orange, and red vegetables have far more nutrients than pale ones. Hence, if you dislike pale zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers, don't work hard to acquire a taste for them. Instead, put your efforts into having more broccoli, spinach, and winter squash — the richly colored, more nutrient-dense choices.
• Include lettuce, tomato and green or red peppers on your sandwiches and wraps.
• Keep baby carrots and cherry tomatoes handy in the front of the refrigerator for easy snacking.
• Bring a baggie of cut up veggies to practices, games, and tournaments.healthy diet plan In an environment with hungry, thirsty young players, you’ll be surprised how popular veggies are, and how quickly they get eaten — particularly if you include a low-fat ranch dressing for a dip!
• Eat colorful salads filled with tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, spinach, and dark lettuces. Pale salads with white lettuce, cucumbers, onions, celery, and other pale veggies offer little more than crunch.healthy meal plan When smothered with dressing, this crunch becomes highly caloric. Alternatives to a pale restaurant salad include tomato juice, vegetable soup, a steamed veggie or, when you get home, a handful of raw baby carrots for a bedtime snack.
• Fortify spaghetti sauce with a box of frozen chopped broccoli or green peppers. Cook the veggies alongside the spaghetti (in a steamer over the pasta water) before you add them to the tomato sauce.
• Choose fast foods with the most veggies:
— Pizza with peppers, mushrooms and extra tomato sauce
— Chinese entrées stir-fried with vegetables
— Lunchtime V-8 juice instead of diet soda
• Even over-cooked vegetables are better than no vegetables.eat healthy If your only option is over-cooked veggies from the cafeteria, eat them. While cooking does destroy some of the vegetable's nutrients, it does not destroy all of them. Any vegetable is better than no vegetable!
• Keep frozen vegetables stocked in your freezer, ready and waiting.healthy eating plan They are quick and easy to prepare, won't spoil quickly, and have more nutrients than "fresh" vegetables that have been in the store and your refrigerator for a few days. Because cooking (more than freezing) reduces a vegetable's nutritional content:
— Quickly cook vegetables only until tender crisp and use the cooking water as a broth.
— Microwave vegetables in a covered dish.
— Stir-fry them with very little olive oil.
• Use a blender to finely chop veggies to include in meatloaf, soup, and stews.
• When all else fails, eat fruit to help compensate for lack of vegetables.healthy eating plan The best alternatives include bananas, oranges, grapefruit, melon, strawberries, blueberries and kiwi. These choices are rich in many of the same nutrients found in vegetables.
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