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Soccer Carbs or Fat?

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  • #16
    As a soccer player of 21 years and playing very competitively, up to and through high school and college, you need some carbs, but not as many as you may think (and as many as I thought too). You should be able to start weening yourself off a mostly carb diet, making your body more efficient at converting fat to useful energy (using this energy during warm up and similar intensity levels throughout the game), since you're not really at maximal effort for the full 90 minutes. If your carbs are maxed out in your body, you should easily have 2 hours of energy without needing to tap into your aerobic metabolism (fat conversion, which can only be done with oxygen, so if you're in an anerobic state (sprinting), your body can't use this form of energy). With that being said, the higher your fitness level is (endurance wise), the less time your body spends in an anerobic state, the less carbs you need. I found I could get by with 150g of carbs on hard practice days, bumping it to 175g of easily digestible carbs 6-10 hours prior to my competition. I weigh 150lbs. On weight lifting days, if you are lifting weights to get strong, it should be a fairly aerobic workout, so your body should be able to tap into its fat stores to use for energy. So you shouldn't need lots of carbs.

    As far as replentishment of carbs, I've found it to be about 12-24 hours (depending on digestibility) and amount eaten to restore what I lost.

    Just what I've learned about my body over the last year, with experimenting on lower carbs, and I am still learning that there are other ways to get my body using the energy that's already stored on it (fat), instead of constantly fueling it with quick, easy energy...
    Last edited by ShankInBunkers; 12-11-2010, 11:50 AM.
    Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out -
Robert Collier
    Danielle Shank Photography
    My Primal Journey

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    • #17
      ^Interesting. What kind carbs do you eat, and how long exactly before the game/hard practice?

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      • #18
        Originally posted by ShankInBunkers View Post
        As a soccer player of 21 years and playing very competitively, up to and through high school and college, you need some carbs, but not as many as you may think (and as many as I thought too). You should be able to start weening yourself off a mostly carb diet, making your body more efficient at converting fat to useful energy (using this energy during warm up and similar intensity levels throughout the game), since you're not really at maximal effort for the full 90 minutes. If your carbs are maxed out in your body, you should easily have 2 hours of energy without needing to tap into your aerobic metabolism (fat conversion, which can only be done with oxygen, so if you're in an anerobic state (sprinting), your body can't use this form of energy). With that being said, the higher your fitness level is (endurance wise), the less time your body spends in an anerobic state, the less carbs you need. I found I could get by with 150g of carbs on hard practice days, bumping it to 175g of easily digestible carbs 6-10 hours prior to my competition. I weigh 150lbs. On weight lifting days, if you are lifting weights to get strong, it should be a fairly aerobic workout, so your body should be able to tap into its fat stores to use for energy. So you shouldn't need lots of carbs.

        As far as replentishment of carbs, I've found it to be about 12-24 hours (depending on digestibility) and amount eaten to restore what I lost.

        Just what I've learned about my body over the last year, with experimenting on lower carbs, and I am still learning that there are other ways to get my body using the energy that's already stored on it (fat), instead of constantly fueling it with quick, easy energy...
        I am also a 21 year old competitive soccer player, but have been only running on no more than 100 grams of carbs sometimes even less than 50 grams. I can't really say how it affects my performance because sometimes I feel highly energetic and could last the whole 90 minutes and other times I feel completely depleted of power and energy. I am a bit scared to go over 100 grams of carbohydrates.

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        • #19
          I would eat low carb as much as possible and get your body primarily using fat as a fuel source... which may make more sense off-season. Post-practice or game is when I would eat the carbs to replenish the glycogen stores.

          I would also make sure you are getting enough protein and sleep so that you fully recover between practices.

          I play on a club team and have been thriving eating paleo/primal. Feel free to contact me with any questions: paleohund.com

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          • #20
            No wonder you suffered after changing diet, with that level of activity- I don't think I could physically eat enough to fuel that amount of activity! Any dietary changes will probably make you feel a bit off for the first week or two, but primal is nutritionally complete so there's no reason that your activities should suffer once your body's adjusted. It'd probably be appropriate for you to have a higher carb intake than most anyway. The important thing is to make sure you're definitely eating enough- I'm pretty new to the whole paleo thing, but from what I can gather a lot of the recipes aren't that different to modern recipes, just minus the 'filler' of potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc., which means you need much bigger portions of the good stuff per meal. If you're going eat carby things, but want to minimise the bad effects, only do so after your training sessions- this is when you need both sugar (for fast recovery) and insulin anyway, as it acts with the growth hormone (released during exercise and protein intake) to promote growth. GH without insulin tells your body 'I'm exercising but I'm not well fed- go into starvation mode!'.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by AmyMac703 View Post
              Not defending the sandwich and oatmeal, but it is a known fact that the oxygen cost of burning fat is higher than the oxygen cost of burning carbohydrate, which is why fat is generally less efficient as a fuel for cardio-intense activities.
              This may be true, but while on a high fat diet your body is producing ketones for energy. Which is a 28% more efficient energy source than carbohydrates/glucose. Incidentally the heart only works on ketones from fat, not glucose. Which may also explain my extremely high heart rate of 223 when doing HIIT. I am 42 years old, and it should not be possible according to CW.

              Ketone bodies are the preferred fuel of the heart, adrenal cortex, skeletal musculature and various parts of the brain; these tissues actually prefer to burn ketones, which conserves blood sugar (from refs in Eades & Eades, Protein Power, Bantam, 1998, p. 149)

              Get fully fat adapted and then see how your cardio exercises compare to your semi-fat adapted cardio strategies.
              Sometimes you need to be told the truth in order to be able to see it.

              My journal

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              Exist in shadow, drifting away.

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              • #22
                Joshy, for me, I don't like eating any closer to competition or practice than 2-3 hours otherwise I feel sick. I'd prefer to know my stomach is empty. I've tried eating some carbs 5-6 hours before competition/practice and I seem to be alright, other teammates are able to eat as they walk out to the field to put their boots on. Just experiment with what works for you. It will take a little time.
                Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out -
Robert Collier
                Danielle Shank Photography
                My Primal Journey

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                • #23
                  Thanks. I've tried a lot of things but it's been really hard for me to find noticable effects. The only time I even notice a correlation between what I eat and my performance is when I eat too much too close to game time - doesn't seem to matter what it is. I don't know if there actually is a difference and I don't notice it, or if my body runs just about the same off carbs and fat.

                  I guess it doesn't really matter if I feel fine both ways, but it's frustrating because I want to squeez out some extra performance.

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                  • #24
                    Im 16 aswell, i suggest if you want to add more fat, use eggs. They are cheap, even if you go for free range.
                    Sometimes my parents dont buy free range, and opt for just the crappy 2$ cage eggs. Dont sweat it, while free range/organic is excellent, dont worry if you cant, it's not going to kill you.

                    So maybe your breakfast could be eggs and bacon, or just eggs. Scrambled, omelete, whatever you like. I often squeeze a bit of barbecue source onto mine to make it a little nicer.

                    Nuts, seeds are great for fat and protein aswell.
                    However, dont worry if your in a position where you have to eat grain, such as a pizza with friends.
                    Even 50-60% primal is better then nothing.

                    Good luck with soccer.

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