Best Snacks for a Soccer Game: Energy for the Field
It is important for athletes to have ideas for the best snacks for a soccer game to provide them with energy on the field. Here are a variety of snacks that soccer players can enjoy before, during, and after a game to support their sports nutrition needs.
Best Pre-Game Snacks for a Soccer Game
When determining the best pre-game snacks for a soccer game, it is important to consider the timing of when the snack will be eaten. When soccer players have several hours prior to the start of the game, they can enjoy a larger snack or “mini-meal.”
The pre-game snack or “mini-meal” should be high in carbohydrates, contain a moderate amount of protein, and be low in fat.
Healthy snack ideas for athletes to enjoy several hours before the start of the soccer game include:
- Greek yogurt parfait with mixed berries and granola
- Bagel with nut butter and sliced banana
- Instant oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts
- Protein overnight oats
- Breakfast bars and hard-boiled eggs
- Kodiak Cakes® toaster waffles with nut butter
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with grapes
- Turkey and cheese wrap with orange slices
- Fruit smoothie
Pre-Game Soccer Snack ideas: Focus on Carbohydrates
When soccer players have limited time prior to the start of the game, they should focus on consuming snacks that are high in carbohydrates. The carbohydrates will provide the soccer players with a quick source of energy as they head into the game.
High-carb snack ideas for before the game include:
- Banana, small piece of fresh fruit, dried fruit
- Low-fat granola bar, breakfast bar, fig bar
- Animal crackers, graham crackers
- Mini-bagel, dry breakfast cereal
- Pretzels, pita chips, rice cakes
- Fruits snacks, fruit leather
- Sports drink, chews, gels
What Snack Foods Should Soccer Players Avoid Before a Game?
Prior to the start of a soccer game, athletes should limit snack foods that are high in protein, fat, or fiber. Eating snacks high in these nutrients too close to the start of the game may result in an upset stomach during the competition (1).
This includes snack foods such as:
- Fried or greasy foods (French fries, onion rings, chips)
- Dessert type foods (ice cream, brownies, fudge)
- Heavy cream, cheese, or buttery sauces
- High-fiber whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- High-fiber vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage)
Each player is unique. Thus, it is important for athletes to learn their individual tolerances and determine what foods they feel best eating before a soccer game.
Halftime Snacks for a Soccer Game
I often tell athletes that if they are lucky enough to participate in a sport that has a halftime break, they need to use it to refuel and rehydrate.
Halftime snacks such as a banana, orange wedges, an applesauce squeeze pouch, fruit chews, pretzels, sports chews, or sports gels are all good options. These snacks contain easy to digest carbohydrates and can provide athletes with an extra source of energy for the second-half of the game.
Consuming a sports drink during the soccer game as well as at the halftime break can also be beneficial. The sports drink will help soccer players with replacing the fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat. In addition, the sports drink will provide the athletes with an extra source of carbohydrates for energy on the field.
Best Snacks for After a Soccer Game
Following a soccer game, it is important to plan for snacks that can help soccer players with meeting their recovery nutrition needs.
Recovery nutrition is particularly important when there is limited time (< 24 hours) between soccer games (1). For example, when the team is competing in a soccer tournament or has back-to-back games scheduled.
The three areas of recovery nutrition that soccer players should focus on include:
- Rehydrate – Replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
- Refill Energy Stores – Consume carbohydrates to replace energy stores used during activity
- Build and Repair – Consume protein to help build and repair lean muscle mass
Focus on Rehydrating with Snacks After a Soccer Game
Quick and easy beverage ideas to add to the post-game snack include:
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- High-protein milk
- Tart cherry juice
Why is Chocolate Milk Recommended After a Game?
Chocolate milk is frequently recommended as a recovery drink for athletes. Soccer players can enjoy chocolate milk following a game to support them with meeting their recovery nutrition needs.
Chocolate milk is 90% water, thus it can support soccer players with rehydrating following a game. In addition, a 1-cup serving of chocolate milk provides 8 grams of complete protein and 26 grams of carbohydrates (2).
Thus, chocolate milk checks all three recovery nutrition boxes. It can help soccer players with meeting their fluid, protein, and carbohydrate needs following a game.
Why Drink Tart Cherry Juice After a Soccer Game?
Tart cherry juice is another beverage commonly recommended for athletes to drink after participating in intense activity.
Tart cherry juice contains high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. When drunk following exercise, tart cherry juice may help reduce inflammation in the body and support muscle recovery from activity (3, 4).
Soccer players can add tart cherry juice to a nutritious post-workout smoothie to support their recovery nutrition needs.
Recovery Nutrition Snacks for After a Soccer Game
When planning snacks for after the soccer game, athletes should pair carbohydrate-rich foods with foods that provide protein.
Easy recovery nutrition snack ideas for after a soccer game include:
- Granola bars with low-fat chocolate milk
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with low-fat milk
- Uncrustables® or SunButter® JammiesTM with high-protein milk
- Ham and cheese wrap with tart cherry juice
- Beef jerky, pretzels, and banana with sports drink
- Greek yogurt, berries, and granola with tart cherry juice
- String cheese and fig bars with low-fat milk
- Sports bar with sports drink
Best Snacks for a Soccer Game: Energy for the Field
You are now set with a variety of snack ideas for before, during, and after a soccer game. It is important for soccer players to take time to practice their game day nutrition plan. Having a well-practiced nutrition plan will help soccer players feel confident on game day that they are fueled to perform at their best.
For additional nutrition recommendation for soccer players, check out my blog: Best Breakfast Before a Soccer Game.
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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.