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"No lines, No laps, No Lectures" - Karl Dewazien

 Healthy Halftime Snacks from MLS Works


Drink to Better Performance! by Amy J. Reuter MS, RD

Summer is a perfect time to prepare for the fall soccer season. It is also an ideal time for athletes to improve their nutrition by making smart beverage choices. Obtaining adequate amounts of nutrient-rich beverages will positively impact an athlete's performance and health. The following fluid facts will assist athletes in choosing beverages wisely.
First and foremost, athletes need to drink to replenish fluid losses from sweat.   As body temperature increases during exercise, sweat is produced. Body fluids are then lost as this sweat evaporates to cool the body.
If fluid needs are not met, performance can suffer. Dehydration results in premature fatigue and increases the risk of heat illness. Inadequate fluid intake can result in sluggish performance, headaches, lethargy, and moodiness. These symptoms may appear with a sweat loss of as little as 1% of body weight. A very low urine output and concentrated urine may indicate a lack of fluids. Tracking urine output is one way to monitor hydration status. An athlete can also determine sweat losses by checking weight before and after practice and drinking 2 cups of non-caffeinated fluid for every pound of weight lost.

Drinking adequate amounts of fluid is the key to optimal hydration. Yet, the amount needed to replenish body fluids varies. Sedentary adults generally need 8 cups of fluid daily. Athletes training for 2 hours daily may lose an extra 8 cups of body fluid for a total daily loss of at least 16 cups or 1 gallon. Milk, water, fruit juices, sports drinks, fruit and soup all contribute to replenishing fluid stores.

Other beverages may inhibit hydration. Avoid caffeine-containing beverages since they increase fluid loss via their diuretic effect. Carbonated beverages are also not recommended for hydration. The "bubbles" they contain may produce a burning feeling in the mouth preventing adequate intake. In addition the carbonation may give the athlete a bloated feeling during practice or competition.

Unfortunately, soda – the beverage consumed in the largest proportion by youths – lacks any nutrient value. Data from the most recent USDA Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) shows that almost one-fourth of adolescents drink more than 26 oz. of soft drinks per day. In addition, soft drink consumption is, in general, inversely associated with consumption of milk and fruit juice. Adolescents surveyed were replacing nutrient packed milk and fruit juices with nutrient deplete sodas. Intake of nutrients concentrated in milk (calcium, riboflavin, vitamin A and phosphorus) and fruit juices (folate and vitamin C) also tended to be lower among youths in the highest soft drink consumption category compared with youths in the lower intake categories. Focusing on nutrient-rich beverages like milk and 100% fruit juices will better equip athletes for optimal performance.




1. Consume a minimum of 12 cups of fluid (including fruits and soups) daily.
2. Two hours before exercise drink 17 oz (about 2 cups) of fluid.
3. During exercise, consume water at regular intervals (e.g. every 15-20 minutes) to replace sweat losses.
4. After exercise, drink at least 16 oz (2 cups) of fluid for every pound of body weight lost via sweat.
5. Carry a sports bottle of water as a visual reminder to drink.
6. Avoid carbonated beverages before exercising.
7. Substitute milk or 100% fruit juices for soft drinks throughout the day.
8. Try chocolate milk after practice to replenish energy and nutrients.
9. Try cool temperature fluids over warmer fluids for improved tolerance.
10. If you drink coffee and colas or similar beverages, do so in moderation, especially prior to physical activity.

Amy Reuter’s column is presented by the Washington Interscholastic Nutrition Forum (WINForum).  Please visit them at


Keeping well hydrated is essential for peak performance. Dehydration impairs performance quickly and its effects can linger for several days. With a little planning, athletes can obtain adequate amounts of fluid. With the support and encouragement of teammates, coaches and parents, athletes can also improve their drink choices.  Drinking a minimum of 12 cups of water, milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juices along with soups and fruits each day aids athletes in performing at their best. Here's to improving performance and health with wise beverage choices … I think all athletes can drink to that!


MLS W.O.R.K.S. presents
Healthy Halftime Snacks!
Major League Soccer believes that athletes need to take care of their bodies for optimal performance.

Now, thanks to MLS W.O.R.K.S. and world renowned experts, we have the tools to help make that possible. Through T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K. you can learn how eating healthy can provide added energy to help athletes be successful on and off the field.

Healthy Halftime Snacks provides nutritional guidance for young athletes, parents and coaches. Check out the links below to see what you can do to stay healthy and strong!

Click on the links below to download the information:
• For Kids: T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K. Nutrition Tips >
• For Parents & Coaches: Game Plan for Optimal Nutrition >
• Scientific Study Data: Optimal Nutrition for Kids Playing Soccer
Drinking for health and performance includes planning fluids into an athlete's training diet. Thirst is a poor indicator of fluid needs because it lags behind the body's need for fluid. Encourage athletes to incorporate these top ten tips for optimal fueling into their daily routine:The beverages that athletes consume throughout the day can also contribute to an athlete's nutrient intake. Milk is an ideal drink for athletes. Packed with calcium, protein and seven other nutrients, it is one of the most nutrient rich beverages.  Other good vitamin sources are 100% fruit and vegetable juices.

 Research on Nutrition for Children


Science-Based Policy Statement on Optimal Nutrition for Children Playing Soccer
Soccer is a high intensity sport that requires a combination of power, speed, and endurance that can be sustained throughout a game. In order to fuel their muscles and perform sustained exercise at high level, children must consume adequate calories from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. In order to help meet their nutrient needs, parents and coaches need to guide children to consume lean animal and vegetable protein, whole grain carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and low fat dairy 1. Not only is it important to encourage the consumption of these food groups to meet energy needs, but these healthy food choices also provide the vitamins and minerals that are essential in regulating children’s energy, growth, and repair processes. Finally, it is critical that young players stay hydrated so that performance and heat regulation are not compromised. This paper provides parents and coaches with an overview of the current research on the nutritional needs of youth soccer players and provides practical recommendations for sustained energy and performance.
At this time there is a lack of research on the amount of energy a child expends in various sports 2. The number of calories required over a 24-hour day depends on the age of the child and their activity level. We do know that children expend more energy per pound of body mass compared with adults – from 10-25% more 2, 3. The younger the child the more this is true. This is due to children having less muscular coordination and economy of movement compared to adults 4, 5. Table 1 lists the estimated caloric requirements of sedentary children. Young soccer players may require anywhere from 200-600 calories more per day, depending on the intensity and duration of play 6. Importantly, children playing soccer need to stay in “energy balance” – that means consuming ample calories for proper growth, development, and activity. As in adults, consuming more than they burn will lead to excess weight gain. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), ALL children 2 years and older should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week 1. Caregivers of young soccer players need to recognize that if a child is only playing soccer on a daily basis and not engaged in additional physical activity, he or she might only just be meeting these recommendations. Therefore, some youth soccer players may not necessarily need more calories on a daily basis, but may need to pay more attention to the composition and timing of snacks and meals.
Table 1: Daily Estimated Caloric Intakes for Sedentary Females and Males
Calorie estimates are based on a sedentary lifestyle. Increased physical activity will require additional calories: by 0 to
200 kcal/day if moderately physically active and by 200 to 400 kcal/day if very physically active. Adapted from the AAP
Dietary Recommendations for Children and Adolescents: A Guide for Practitioners, 2005
4-8 yrs 9-13 yrs
Females 1200 1600
Males 1400 1800

 Carbohydrates - Energy for exercising muscles


Why Important. Carbohydrates are essential for intense physical activity in sports such as soccer. They are the most readily available source of food energy for exercising muscles. When a child is training or competing, the muscles need energy to perform. The major source of energy for working muscles is glycogen. Glycogen is stored in muscles and the liver and is a starch produced by the body primarily from the glucose found in carbohydrates. Muscle glycogen provides the primary energy source for high intensity, maximal-outburst activity, and is also a significant fuel source for endurance exercise 7. Consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrate maintains usual training intensity and promotes rapid recovery. A regular soccer match has been shown to deplete muscle glycogen stores in children by approximately 35% and this gradual depletion parallels time to exhaustion8. Carbohydrate consumption pre-exercise stimulates muscle glycogen storage and may help delay fatigue during exercise. Carbohydrate consumption during exercise that lasts more than 60 minutes
helps the body maintain blood glucose availability late in exercise 7. Post-exercise carbohydrates help improve muscle glycogen storage, especially within 30-60 minutes after the activity 9. (See meal timing section below.)
Carbohydrate Needs. Children should consume 46-65% of their energy as carbohydrates10.If they are exercising for long durations and at high intensities, it may be beneficial for them to consume amounts at the upper end of this range. Children should eat carbohydrates at each meal with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Whole Grains. At least half of the grains a child consumes should be whole grains which are full of nutrients and fiber 1. Children 4-8 years of age should have a daily dietary fiber intake of 25 g and 9-13 year olds should consume 31 g and 26 g, respectively 10. Unfortunately, the Average Dietary Fiber intake for children 2-5 years old is 11.4 g/day and for children 6-11 years old is 13.1 g/day 11. These low fiber intakes may reflect low intakes of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and further emphasize a need to focus on these food groups.
Fruits and Vegetables. Many people may think of carbohydrates as bread and rice, however, some of the most important carbohydrates in our diet come from colorful fruits and vegetables. Not only do fruits and vegetables fuel the body for exercise, they are also excellent sources of vitamins A and C, phytochemicals, and fiber. Children should consume at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day 1, 6. However, 63% of children 2 to 9 years of age are not consuming the recommended number of servings of fruits, and 78% are not consuming the recommended number of servings for vegetables. Children, on average, are only consuming 2.0 fruits and 2.2 vegetables per day 12. These low intakes are associated with inadequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, in addition to high intakes of total fat and saturated fat 13. Children should strive to consume a variety of vegetables and the majority of servings of fruit should come from whole fruit (fresh, frozen, canned, dried) rather than fruit juice 6 14. Increased fruit juice intake is associated with excess adiposity (body fat) gains, whereas increased consumption of whole fruits is associated with reduced adiposity gains 15. Reasons for this may include that fruit juice is high in calories and not as filling as whole fruit which can lead to over consumption. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to four to six ounces per day. Children between the ages of 7 and 18 should consume no more than between eight and twelve ounces of juice a day 6, 14. If 100% fruit juice is provided in these appropriate amounts, it can be a healthy part of a child's diet. 3
High glycemic index foods. The glycemic index or load of an individual food or a meal is a measure of how quickly it causes blood sugar levels to rise and fall. A food, snack or a meal that has a relatively high glycemic index or load WILL NOT provide lasting energy. The fiber, protein, fat, and simple sugar content all impact the glycemic index of a food, snack, or meal. Examples of high glycemic index foods include simple and refined sugars such as candy, white bread, and white rice. Children should be consuming snacks and meals that contain a relatively low glycemic load right before activity/training. For example, a breakfast that includes whole grain cereal and milk is likely to help sustain blood sugar and will help children better maintain blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Studies have shown that this maintains cognitive performance, reduces excess calorie intakes at lunch, and helps with exercise performance later in the day 16, 17. Table 2 lists some ideal foods for children to consume prior to activity
High fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is a form of corn syrup which has undergone enzymatic processing that increases its fructose content. It is comparable to table sugar (sucrose) in sweetness and is used by food manufacturers as a useful alternative to sucrose in soft drinks and other processed foods. Beverages with high fructose corn syrup, sweets, and other sweetened foods that provide little or no nutrients should be avoided. Consumption of these foods is negatively associated with diet quality in children and can contribute to excessive energy intakes 6, 14. In addition, most of these products have a high glycemic index, which would cause children’s blood sugar to spike and then fall during a soccer game and lead to fatigue.