Lets break this topic into "Eating During Competition" and "Eating After a Competition"

Eating During Competition

During the game, carbohydrate supplement drinks given before the game and at halftime have been shown to increase running volume and intensity in the second half in soccer players. This is important to consider because goals become more frequent later in the game as players get tired.
If you have more energy than your opponents, you are more likely to have an advantage over the opposition and hopefully, score more later in the game. As you can see from the table below, the ubiquitous orange slices at halftime are pretty low on the priority as a carbohydrate source.

Eating After a Competition

The game uses muscle glycogen (carbohydrate) so it must be replaced. Research has shown that muscle is the most receptive for carbohydrate replacement in the first two hours after exhaustive exercise. Therefore, it is important to eat some moderate to high glycemic index foods in the first two hours after a game.

From the table, you see there are quite a variety of options for food, most of which require a little planning and typically do not come in a bag or a tray from a fast food restaurant. With games at 12 noon and 4 pm, it is necessary to get some carbohydrates back into the muscles quickly.
Remember, fast foods are high in fat and protein and can remain in the stomach at the start of the next game (depending on when it was eaten and how much was eaten) and doesn?t return much in the way of carbohydrates to the muscles, therefore should be avoided.
A nutritionist gave me a good suggestion: make up bags of Chex Mix with some pretzel sticks added (forget the oil and baking requirement) and let the players eat this after the game. Clear candy is also good as are raisins, cakes, pies, bagels.
Ideally, eat 50-75 grams of carbohydrate every two hours until you reach the total based on your weight (5-6 grams/kg body weight).
But don?t get the idea that all the carbohydrate can be replenished in a couple of hours. Under the best of conditions, it can take 20 hours to fully replenish muscle glycogen from muscles that have been completely depleted.
Eating for sports performance requires a bit of planning and clock watching, but can lead to improvements in performance. When done properly, the players will notice they have more energy late in games as well as when they have multiple games with minimal recovery between games.


“Eating to Play.” US Youth Soccer, Accessed 5 Apr. 2019

Chocolate milk and its affects on recovery

Who would have thought that a kids drink would turn out to be the fastest growing recovery supplement for post competition. See the article below for more information:

Chocolate Milk and Post Exercise Recovery

Elizabeth (Beth) Mansfield, MSc, RD, CEPSports Dietitian and CSEP-Certified Exercise Physiologist, Peak Performance (, Ottawa

Although there is no scientific basis for the commonly held belief that adults require eight to 10 glasses of water daily, liquids do need to be consumed before, during and after physical activity to support adequate hydration and replace fluid and electrolytes lost through perspiration. While water is usually sufficient to meet hydration needs during workouts lasting an hour or less, beverages containing carbohydrate are more appropriate for training of longer duration since re-fueling and post-workout recovery need to be addressed.

The science of optimal recovery

Much of the scientific work in optimizing recovery post workout has focused on the use of experimental solutions prepared in a laboratory. Unfortunately, these solutions miss out on the combination of nutrients in food that work in concert to improve the health as well as the performance of a body undergoing the rigours of training.

Clinical sports nutrition research continues to show that chocolate milk has the potential to aid active men and women in their quest for losing excess body fat and gaining muscle mass, and to improve athletes’ refueling, rehydration, and their subsequent performance.Karp and colleagues highlighted chocolate milk’s potential for maintaining exercise performance in subsequent bouts of exhaustive endurance exercise when used as a post-workout recovery drink.2 Similarly, Thomas et al. recently demonstrated that chocolate milk is a substantially more effective recovery aid after prolonged exercise in preparation for subsequent exercise than two commercially available sports drinks.3 Shirreffs et al. also showed that milk has the potential to be more effective for post-exercise replacement of perspiration losses and maintenance of hydration than sports drinks of similar concentration of carbohydrate or water,4 while Wilkinson and colleagues found that young men engaged in resistance training could achieve greater gains in muscle protein by drinking milk versus equivalent amounts of a soy beverage.5

In addition to being about 85% water, chocolate milk supplies a carbohydrate-protein combination that maximizes post workout recovery and rehydration. Furthermore, it contains nutrients such as sodium and potassium to restore electrolyte balance as well as calcium and vitamin D to promote overall muscle, bone, and cardiovascular health.

The R5 Approach to Optimal Recovery
For optimal recovery, encourage the fitness enthusiasts in your practice to drink chocolate milk and to follow the R5 approach:

  • Re-energize muscles with carbohydrate rich foods such as breads and cereals, fruits, chocolate milk and fruit flavoured yogurts for maximum energy
  • Re-vitalize muscles with antioxidant vitamins and minerals found in brightly coloured vegetables and fruits
  • Re-build bones and muscles with protein and other essential nutrients found in milk products, meats and alternatives
  • Re-oxygenate muscles with iron found in meats, leafy green vegetables, fortified grains and cereals
  • Re-hydrate with water and other fluids, before, during, and after physical activity.


  • Milk and chocolate milk play an important role before, during and after strenuous physical activity.
  • Drinking milk after resistance training promotes gains in muscle protein, which is important in repairing skeletal muscle damage caused by exercise.
  • Drinking milk post workout contributes to greater losses of body fat and gains in muscle mass than soy beverages or sport drinks.


Nutrition, Dairy. “Chocolate Milk and Post Exercise Recovery.” Dairy Nutrition, Accessed 5 Apr. 2019


NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20:  Behind The Scenes At Kelley O'Hara's BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK Ad Shoot on April 20, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Chocolate Milk)

Kelly O'Hara , USWNT Star