The Ultimate Guide to Pre-Game Fueling for Soccer Players

The Ultimate Guide to Pre-Game Fueling for Soccer Players

The Ultimate Guide to Pre-Game Fueling for Soccer Players

The Ultimate Guide to Pre-Game Fueling for Soccer Players

Tips by Reilly Beatty MS, RD, CSSD

As a soccer player, you know that what you eat before a game can make a huge difference in your performance on the field. Just like a well-oiled machine, your body needs the right fuel to perform at its best. That's why choosing the right pre-game fuel is crucial. In this guide, we'll explore some nutritious and energizing options to power you through your match.

Pre-Game Meal

Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy while playing soccer, making them an essential component of your pre-game fuel. Before your game, you will want to have a good pre-game meal 3-4 hours. In this meal make ½ of your plate whole grains, ¼ of it protein and fill the remaining ¼ with fruits, and vegetables to ensure a steady release of energy throughout the game.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Scrambled eggs with sourdough toast with almond butter and sliced bananas. This snack provides a winning combination of carbohydrates, protein, and anti-inflammatory fats to keep you refreshed.
  2. Oatmeal topped with berries and a drizzle of honey: Loaded with carbohydrates and antioxidants, oatmeal is a great choice for sustained energy. Add some fresh berries for vitamins and cook your oats with milk for extra protein!
  3. Grilled chicken with white rice and carrots: This easy to digest meal offers a balance of carbohydrates and protein to keep you fueled during your game.
  4. Turkey and cheese roll-ups with whole grain crackers: Packed with protein and easy to eat on the go, these roll-ups are a convenient option for busy game days. Pair them with whole grain crackers for an extra boost of energy.

Fueling Top Off

While complex carbohydrates are valuable for sustained energy, simple carbohydrates can provide a quick source of fuel right before a game. Consuming 30-60 grams of simple carbohydrates about 30 -60 minutes before kickoff can help top up your glycogen stores and provide a rapid source of energy for your muscles. Here are some examples of simple carbohydrate snacks to consider:

  1. Bananas: Nature's perfect snack, bananas are rich in easily digestible carbohydrates and potassium, making them an ideal choice for a pre-game boost.
  2. Energy gels or chews: Designed specifically for athletes, energy gels and chews are convenient sources of quick-digesting carbohydrates that can be consumed just before or during a game for an instant energy boost.
  3. Sports drinks: Formulated to replenish electrolytes and provide a quick source of carbohydrates, sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade can be consumed in the minutes leading up to kick-off to help optimize hydration and energy levels.
  4. Fruit snacks: This is a portable and convenient snack for you to munch on before a game to boost your energy levels without feeling weighed down.

Including simple carbohydrate snacks in your pre-game routine can help give you that extra edge on the field, ensuring that you have the energy you need to perform at your best when it matters most.


Staying hydrated is key to maintaining peak performance on the soccer field. Dehydration can lead to decreased endurance, impaired cognitive function, and increased risk of injury. As a soccer player, it's essential to start hydrating well before the game begins and continue to drink fluids throughout the match. Hydration for your game begins 24-48 hours before game time!

When working on your hydration, water is the best choice to stay hydrated, but electrolyte-rich beverages like sports drinks can also help replenish lost fluids and minerals (specifically sodium). Aim for 3L of fluid on your game days!

Practice Makes Perfect

Many athletes make the mistake of only caring about their fueling on game day. While fueling properly on game day is extremely important, it's essential that you are practicing good fueling habits on practice days. By prioritizing your fueling on training day, it can help you learn what foods agree with your stomach and won't cause any discomfort during the game. Avoid trying new or unfamiliar foods right before a match to prevent any digestive issues or energy crashes. 


In conclusion, pre-game nutrition and hydration are essential components of your game day performance strategy. By fueling your body with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fluids, you set yourself up for success on the field.

Make sure you practice your fueling on training day and then stick to that tried-and-true options that you know will provide the energy and nutrients you need to perform your best on the field.

So, whether you're enjoying a banana and peanut butter toast or sipping on sports drink, prioritize your pre-game snacks and hydration to optimize your performance and achieve your soccer goals.

 Listen to our podcast with Reilly:

Check out more tips from Reilly at her website and her IG @reilly.beatty.nutrition


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