VANCOUVER, BC – To perform at the highest level in Major League Soccer, players need to consume thousands of calories per day to remain in peak condition during a busy season.
Yet, with training intensity dropping during the offseason it is important to ensure players are eating the right foods to stay in shape and to prepare for next season.
The ‘Caps work closely with sport dietitian Emma McCrudden, who has managed the diets of dozens of professional athletes competing in football, rugby, swimming and multiple Winter Olympic sports, to help ‘Caps players find the best way to remain fit and healthy during the winter break.
“Soccer players rely heavily on carbohydrate stores to fuel training and games. When they are not burning these carbohydrates off, they no longer need to eat as much,” McCrudden said.
“In short, they will need to eat fewer calories to avoid gaining weight.”
McCrudden explains that because soccer players are used to eating large portions, they sometimes struggle to stop consuming as much food during the offseason out of shear habit. Her team uses a strategy called “volumetrics” to overcome this problem.
“Volumetrics involves filling up on lower calorie and high fibre foods to create a visually full plate with fewer overall calories,” she said.
“Eating wholegrains, adding foods like cauliflower rice to regular rice, zucchini noodles to pasta, using lettuce wraps and filling up on vegetables will all help athletes feel fuller.”
Other strategies she suggests include encouraging players to maintain a high protein intake. Protein rich foods make players feel fuller and also help athletes minimize muscle mass losses which happen naturally with less training.
High protein snacks like smoothies, boiled eggs, jerky, yogurt, canned tuna and Muscle MLK protein powder can all help players meet their protein needs throughout the day.
The offseason is a time for many players to relax and take a break from the game and diet monitoring is less intense than during the regular season. However, they are expected to return to the club in the New Year in good physical condition.
“They will have fitness testing and body composition testing when they return to training in January,” said McCrudden. “The outcomes of those tests will dictate preseason training, so they know better than anyone the importance of staying in good shape.”