Figuring out a diet plan for a sport is probably the most grinding decision to make. And for a demanding sport like soccer, having the proper diet is instrumental for your performance on the turf.
A tasty mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats fuels a soccer player for match performance. But where do they get these nutrients into their bodies? Let’s find out!
There are plenty of plant-based sources for getting healthy fats and carbs into your body for energy. However, it’s the protein intake that presents two different theories.
One thought is to charge up your diet to meet the high requirement of protein in your body. And the other is to introduce protein shakes to your diet.
Now, the misconception created about the latter in various communities is baseless and misguiding.
Protein shakes are a necessary ingredient in athletes’ diets around the world. And little to no evidence shows how they can be counterproductive for your body.
With that settled, let’s see what part these protein shakes can play for the performance of a soccer player!
Are Protein Shakes Good for Soccer Players?
Protein is the primary building block of the muscles in your body!
And if you’ve got the slightest hint about physiology, you’ll know that working a muscle outbreaks/damages its fibers, which are then rebuilt stronger by amino acids or protein.
Since soccer players train for an average of six hours a day, they take decent damage to their core and leg muscles. No wonder the desired amount of protein for soccer players is 0.55-0.65 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight!
Now let’s take an average soccer player’s weight to be 130 lbs. Ideally, the protein intake should be around 80-95 grams per day for a player with such weight.
And that’s a crazy amount of protein to extract from a diet alone!
Because even if you rely on high protein options like fish, meat, and chicken, protein won’t be the only nutrient present. You’re very likely to overload your diet with fats and other counterproductive nutrients while chasing your protein goals.
So, what’s a high protein option with little or negligible content of other dietary nutrients? Protein shakes!
Protein shakes help soccer players reach their daily protein requirements with ease. And that too without overloading the body with other macronutrients.
Protein shakes are specifically suitable for soccer players because they don’t affect their training routines either.
Because even though a burger might have the same protein content as a scoop of protein powder, it will take much longer to digest due to its high-calorie content and other nutrients present.
Not only will this load on your digestive system affect your training, but it also slows down the building of muscles.
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Are Protein Shakes Good Before Soccer?
Soccer is a very exhausting sport. An average soccer player covers about 7-9 miles of distance during each game. And if you’re not light and agile before your match, you won’t last long in this demanding sport!
This also brings us to the oblivion of taking protein shakes before a soccer match.
The theory says that taking protein shakes before a workout (i.e., match) increases your performance and muscle recovery. But it doesn’t say much about digestion and performance.
The best time for a protein shake is in the morning or at least three hours before the match on matchday. But never right before the match!
Protein is a macronutrient, and it takes quite a while to digest. And all the while, when you’re digesting protein from the shake, you’re constantly using up energy. This turns out to be counterproductive during a soccer match.
If not protein shakes, what then is the best drink before soccer?
So, you’ve seen soccer players charge up to their benches during timeouts to gulp a few sips from a sports bottle and wonder what it is. Is it water? Protein shake? Or a hydration drink?
Nine times out of ten, it is either a hydration drink or detox water of some kind. And that’s because those are precisely what a soccer player needs before and during the match.
Hydration drinks pack heavy on carbs, which digest quickly and give an instant surge in energy. Other than that, they’re full of minerals and vitamins to recover the electrolytes lost in sweat.
Drawing an answer from this reasoning, protein shakes are not good before a soccer match. Because, unlike carbs, they work for the long term by building muscles. But if you still want instant energy, hydration drinks are the way to go!
Does Messi Drink Protein Shakes?
Lionel Messi drinks about two to three protein shakes a day!
Besides being the GOAT of soccer, Leo Messi is also an incredibly inspirational athlete!
He was diagnosed with a growth hormone disorder at a young age. But that didn’t hamper his ambition to become the greatest soccer player to walk on the turf.
Messi hired Giuliano Poser in 2014, one of the top dieticians in the world, to put his diet in order. Because he is Argentine, and Argentines love Milanesa and Meat!
Poser then restricted Messi from having meat, sugar, and refined flour on his diet. Though sugar and refined flour are understandable, why cut down on meat?
Because a large intake of meat daily puts a heavy burden on your digestive system. And in such an exhaustive routine of soccer training, such factors become a liability.
It was probably here that Leo Messi seriously started to substitute protein shakes for other forms of protein. Though he still has a bunch of cheat days for sure, Messi’s diet is limited chiefly to supplements for protein.
Having 2-3 protein shakes a day is enough to keep on rebuilding the muscles he works every day in training. And it is perhaps this factor that even after crossing the dreaded mark of 30, he’s able to recover from injuries quite soon and is match-fit for most of the year.
Is Protein Good for Soccer Players?
Protein is good for all athletes, and so the same applies to soccer players!
Soccer players grind their muscles for around six hours a day. And then put that training to test in 90-minutes long matches 2-3 times a week.
This damages/injures a large number of muscle fibers in their body. And without ample protein to help rebuild the muscles stronger, they’ll start to degenerate!
Protein helps your muscles grow in two ways.
The active growth comes from rebuilding the broken/damaged muscle fibers and making them stronger. And the passive growth comes from shortening the recovery time for muscles between workouts.
Protein is good for soccer players in both regards. It helps soccer players keep on building muscles while bridging the gap between training sessions.
Soccer players mostly work their lower body and core during training. Since they’re major muscle groups, they need a lot of protein for rebuilding and recovery.
Though there are multiple views on this, soccer players’ average daily protein intake is recommended at 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
So, protein is not only good for soccer players but is highly recommended as well!
Protein is vital for all sports.
And where the diet falls short for meeting daily protein requirements, protein shakes save the day!
Soccer players should specifically introduce protein shakes to their diets. They offer a great alternative to traditional forms of protein, i.e., meat, fish, chicken, etc.
The protein in protein shakes is easily digestible and nearly free of other nutrients that might affect your diet.
However, timing your protein shakes is key to ripping the most benefits from it.
Though it is not a good idea to have one before your match, it is very beneficial for recovery right after the match
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!