Best Breakfast Before a Soccer Game
When preparing for a day on the field, it can be helpful for soccer players to be equipped with ideas for how to fuel their bodies. Let’s take a look at recommendations for what to eat for breakfast before a soccer game to support optimal performance.
Breakfast Before a Soccer Game: Meal Timing
When determining what to eat for breakfast prior to a soccer game the timing of the meal should be considered. Eating too much food, too close to the start of the match, may lead to GI distress during the game.
If time allows, it is best to eat your pre-game breakfast ~3-4 hours prior to the start of the game. This allows time for your body to digest the meal and to go to the bathroom, if needed, before the game starts. For example, if the game starts at 10:00 am, aim to eat breakfast around 7:00 am.
Athletes often ask what they should do if they have an early morning match, such as a game starting at 8:00 am. In this case, rather than getting up extremely early for breakfast and disrupting sleep, I recommend eating a smaller high-carb breakfast or mini-meal closer to the start of the game.
Breakfast Before a Soccer Game: Energy for the Field
When planning your pre-game breakfast, the meal should include a good source of carbohydrates, a moderate amount of lean protein, and be low in saturated fat.
Carbohydrates with your Breakfast Before a Soccer Game
Carbohydrates provide the body with the energy needed to perform at its best. Consuming carbohydrates with breakfast prior to a soccer game can help refill energy (glycogen) stores in the body (1).
Soccer players rely on carbohydrates stored in working muscles for energy during a game (2). Thus, building a pre-game breakfast with a foundation of carbohydrates can help ensure athletes are well fueled for the upcoming game.
Athletes can get carbohydrates in the diet from a variety of sources, including:
- Grains: Bread, bagels, English muffins, wraps, breakfast cereal, oatmeal, rice, pasta
- Fruit: Fresh, frozen, dried, canned in natural juices, 100% fruit juice, applesauce
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, corn, peas
- Dairy: Milk, yogurt
Gluten-Free Carbohydrates with Breakfast
Soccer players following a gluten-free diet can easily meet their carbohydrate needs through gluten-free grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and dairy.
If you are looking for gluten-free carbohydrate ideas for before a workout, check out my blog: Gluten-Free Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks for Athletes.
Lean Protein with Breakfast Before a Soccer Game
In addition to carbohydrates, soccer players can include a moderate amount of lean protein with their breakfast before a soccer game.
Ideas for lean protein sources to enjoy with the pre-game breakfast include:
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, string cheese
- High-protein milk
- Turkey sausage
- Chicken, turkey, ham
- Nuts and nut butters
- Soy milk, tofu
My blog on vegan pre-workout meals provides additional ideas for plant-based sources of protein that soccer players can include in their breakfast.
Breakfast Ideas for Before a Soccer Game
Putting this all together, example breakfasts athletes can enjoy before a soccer game include:
- Protein overnight oats, fresh sliced fruit
- English muffin with egg and ham, yogurt parfait with berries and granola
- Pancakes with fresh strawberries and scrambled eggs
- Bagel with nut butter, sliced banana, and honey
- Breakfast wrap with eggs and turkey sausage, fresh sliced melon
- Fruit smoothie, breakfast bars
- Toaster waffles with nut butter, hard boiled eggs, fresh sliced fruit cup
Breakfast Before a Soccer Game: Mini-Meals
When athletes have less time for breakfast before the start of a soccer game, they can enjoy a high-carb mini-meal. I recommend mini-meals when athletes only have ~ 2 hours or less prior to the match to digest their breakfast.
The mini-meal should include a food high in carbohydrates paired with a food that provides a lean source of protein.
Mini-meal breakfast ideas for before a soccer game include:
- Bagel with nut butter
- Fig bars with string cheese
- Fruit smoothie
- Fruit and yogurt parfait with berries and granola
- Kodiak Cakes® toaster waffles with banana
- Instant oatmeal with walnuts and raisins
- Low-fat muffin with hard-boiled egg
Quick High-Carb Snacks Before a Soccer Game
When athletes have 1 hour or less before the start of a soccer game, I recommend they stick with easy to digest, high-carb snacks that will provide a quick source of energy on the field.
Ideas for snacks soccer players can enjoy before a soccer game include:
- Banana, small piece of fresh fruit
- Applesauce squeeze, dried fruit, fruit smoothie
- Bagel, English muffin, toast with jelly
- Fig bar, low-fat granola bar, breakfast bar
- Toaster waffle, low-fat muffin
- Dry breakfast cereal, graham crackers, animal crackers
- Cream of wheat, instant oatmeal
- Sports drinks, gels, chews
Breakfast Before a Soccer Game: Foods to Avoid
Each athlete is unique in terms of the foods they feel most comfortable eating before a soccer game. However, there are some foods that when eaten too close to activity are more likely to cause GI distress during the game.
In general, athletes should limit foods that are high in fat, fiber, and/or protein too close to the start of a soccer game (3).
When planning breakfast before a soccer game, this includes foods such as:
- High-fat or greasy breakfast meats such as bacon and pork sausage
- Heavy cream, cheese, buttery, or greasy sauces such as gravy
- Fried foods such as fried potatoes or donuts
- High-fiber breads or cereals
- Beans and high-fiber vegetables
Hydration Before a Soccer Game
It is important for soccer players to also have a plan in place for hydrating the morning of a soccer game. Dehydration can negatively impact performance and increase an athlete’s risk of heat illness (4). Therefore, starting the soccer game in an optimally hydrated state is important.
With the pre-game breakfast, approximately 3-4 hours prior to the start of the game, soccer players should aim to drink 5-7 mL of fluid per kg of body weight (4).
For a 160-pound athlete, this calculates to be ~12 – 17 fluid ounces. Thus, in general, consuming approximately 2 cups of fluid with breakfast before a soccer game can assist an athlete with meeting this goal.
In the hour leading up to the event, soccer players should continue hydrating, aiming to drink another 8 oz of fluid during this time period.
Best Breakfast Before a Soccer Game: Energy for the Field
You are now set with variety of ideas for what to eat for breakfast before a soccer game. Eating a well-planned breakfast can help ensure soccer players have the energy needed to excel on the field.
For additional sports nutrition tips for soccer players, check out my blog: Soccer Player Diet: Nutrition Tips for Optimal Performance.
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About the Author
Mandy Tyler is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation.