Below is a letter I received from a soccer coach whose team has embraced proper fueling as a way to get to the winners’ circle. I hope it will inspire you to get your team on the Good Nutrition Bandwagon! After all, performance starts with fueling, not training!
Dear Nancy, I wanted to give you an update on what's happening with our boys’ high school soccer team. Inspired by your Food Guide For Soccer, we've slowly gone from giving only very basic nutrition advice other than "hydrate and eat carbs" to a full fledged nutrition "battle plan.”
Pre-season, the head coach asked if I would talk to the players on nutrition, explaining he wanted to make nutrition education a big part of this years’ season. I agreed and have talked to the players, sometimes several times a week. The information I give them comes almost exclusively from your Food Guide for Soccer, Sports Nutrition Guidebook, website, and other articles you have written. The players are being taught, to the best of our ability, the what, when's and why's of nutrition and how it impacts them and their game.
Our official high school season began on Aug 31 with two games against two very tough opponents. We ended the day with two wins. 3-0 and 5-0. We are about half way through our regular season with a record of 7 wins, 1 tie and two losses. We are one game away from first place in our division and the team has their sights set on a county championship as well as a district and state title.
The players are engaged and believe in the nutrition improvement effort.They've felt and seen the results and most (dare I say all?) of them get it. I had to chuckle as some of the boys told me that about a half hour before their first game this season they saw most of the opposing team line up at the snack bar and walk away eating hot dogs, burgers and fried chicken. Our nutrition guide (something I prepare for each game) for that game advised them to avoid those items. We offered them alternatives. Fresh fruit, thick-crust pizza, soft pretzels, and a choice of chocolate milk, water or sports drinks. We beat the opposing team 5-0. First time in 3 years!
For critical evening games, we'll often keep them at school and feed them before they board the bus at 4:30. They have all trained their bodies to accept pre- and mid-game fueling. We've just started to include an additional "emergency" bag of gummies to be used if we find ourselves in overtime situations. We offer them low fat chocolate milk within 15-20 minutes of the end of each game. They all enjoy it and they all know WHAT it's doing for them. They've made their water bottle their best friend. This season, leg cramps are extremely rare.
I keep reinforcing my doubt that any team we face will be as well prepared nutritionally. While some teams we'll face may be technically better, most of them will hit the wall by half time. The “good nutrition advantage,” as you know, is both physical and psychological. That's powerful.
The players now consider proper fueling to be their secret weapon. The gummy bear bag is passed around discretely during halftime and the post game refueling never takes place within view of the opposing team. FUNNY! It shows me they believe!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the helpful information in your books!
“You are about to embark on one of the most wonderful aspects of your, or your child’s, soccer career. Understanding the principles of good sports nutrition (which is good nutrition for life), it is completely reasonable to expect a player and team to discover a whole new level of play, and of excellence.”
Authors Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark quoted in the Forward.
This extremely organized, entertaining, educational and practical book is themed around soccer nutrition for female athletes; however, readers from all backgrounds will benefit from its excellent dietary advice. Both authors have significant experience with health and nutrition at the amateur, university and professional level. If your knowledge about sports nutrition was limited before reading the book, you will receive a significant introduction about a vital topic.
Well-Organized with Quick References
This is a well-organized book that was compiled for easy future reference. There is a good blend of charts, images, quotes, text and website links. I liked how the authors color-coded dietary charts with a green background and food recipes in orange. They also provided separate sections for what to eat before and after practices, during travel and competitive games. Tips from professional players enhance the practical value of this guide.
Educational without Complications
The authors presented significant nutritional suggestions and standards; however, the information is displayed in easy-to-understand sections. They teach that eating healthfully doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. For example, making the point that one banana and a glass of orange juice meet the daily U.S. recommended requirement for 2 cups of fruits. Or that the proper mineral-rich cereal can jump-start your day. Other interesting tips were how to eat a healthy lunch at fast food restaurants and the nutritional value of pasta sauces. Common sense examples such as these will be very helpful for parents, children and even professional athletes.
Knowledge of Professional Players
One area that stood out to me was the in-depth knowledge and appreciation of proper nutrition by the WPS players. Several were quoted in the book. For example, French international Sonia Bompastor of the Washington Freedom:
“I take iron because I’m anemic and I need that iron to perform on the field… A lot of soccer players need to take iron.”
Wide Variety of Recipes
The book contains over 40 recipes designed by WPS players from around the globe. From “Game Day Pancakes” by Karina LeBlanc of Canada to “Feijoada” by Rosana from Brazil and Japanese-style Hamburgers by Aya Miyama, you can experience the international flavor (no pun intended) of Women’s Professional Soccer.
My favorite? “Pasta with Chicken” by the all-time international caps leader, Kristine Lilly from the USA.
A wide variety of high-quality images accompany each chapter. The pictures demonstrate the diversity of nutritional food groups and world-class players who compete in Women’s Professional Soccer.
For your next practice, game or road trip, pack the “Food Guide For Soccer: Tips & Recipes from the Pros.” It will provide you with the winning nutritional edge for increased athletic performance. Available at www.nancyclarkrd.com
If you are a soccer player or soccer parent, here’s information about my newest book, Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros,co-authored with Gloria Averbuch.
New Book Offers Recipes for Soccer Success
A review written by Margo Consul for Active.com
With spring soccer season just around the corner for kids and families, Nancy Clark and Gloria Averbuch’s “Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros” is a great way to keep players energized for the game and healthy at the same time.
Players from Women's Professional Soccer offer up their favorite recipes to provide young athletes with easy and tasty meals to help them follow a healthy diet.
The book provides eating tips for before, during and after a practice or a game. In addition there are sections on how to bulk up or to get lean and lighter, like a professional soccer player might do.
"It's a combination of insightful and sensible nutrition from players from different cultures," Averbuch said.
WPS has a large international base as players hail from all over the globe, including Europe, South America, Australia and Canada. Some of the players added their own cultural twist to some traditional favorites like hamburgers or fried rice.
"It's fun to see what Natasha Kai eats in Hawaii and what Marta eats from Brazil," Averbuch said. "If someone is a professional athlete and is eating this, then you know it's good for you, too."
One of the more surprising foods that is mentioned throughout the book is chocolate.
Yael Averbuch of Sky Blue FC -- Gloria's daughter--takes chocolate milk to replenish her muscles after every practice.
"Chocolate milk is a pleasing taste and you certainly want to drink what is better for you so you get an instant hit from the sweet chocolate and you get the protein and the specialty ingredients that are found to be in milk that are helpful," Gloria Averbuch said.
Yael also enjoys taking dark chocolate and pairing it with peanut butter for a high energy snack, which is exciting for anyone who has a bit of a sweet tooth.
Other recipes from popular soccer stars and WPS teams include Brandi Chastain's avocado salad, Abby Wambach's date bars, Kristine Lilly's chicken with mushrooms & roasted potatoes and Marta's signature lasagna.
Averbuch hopes that readers will take away the three major principles from the book:
You need to eat sensibly and sufficiently to support your activity and your lifestyle as young and growing person.
Eating is for fuel and is pleasurable. It's an activity you can share with family and teammates and you shouldn't beat yourself up over eating, because you need to eat.
Understand the principles of good nutrition by whole food and not by fads.
"My co-author Nancy (Clark) is really big on getting your nutrients from whole foods as opposed to what she calls engineered foods, those are your gels and your PowerBars--which are fine to supplement, but not all the time," Averbauch said. "A lot people think you can drink protein drinks or drink powders or a shake or a bar but it's not really what we want people to learn. We want them to learn a good diet from whole foods, foods that you find in their original form."
Although the tips come from a soccer perspective, Averbuch says that this guide is applicable to any active youth sport or youth with an active lifestyle. She hopes this book teaches young athletes good eating habits early so they can achieve their highest potential.
"It's an education for the sport and for the activity, but it's also an education about life. How do young people prepare themselves, you do it by practice."
Averbuch has previously written 12 books on sports, soccer, health and fitness. Her co-author Nancy Clark MS RD, is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, with a private practice at Healthworks in Chestnut Hill, Mass. She is also the nutrition consultant for the Boston Breakers of WPS.
The Food Guide for Soccer is available on line at Amazon.com and NancyClarkRD.com.