Health & Nutrition Tips for Players

Nutrition Tip of the Month

An experienced soccer player, Natalie Larkin, discusses her past with nutritious eating and provides three useful tips to help athletes with nutrition.

Natalie Larkin, a senior defender at Princeton, was a Second-Team All-Ivy League selection as a junior after starting all 17 games for the Tigers. As a sophomore, she was Second-Team All-Ivy League with five goals and three assists. She also was Second-Team All-Ivy League as a freshman.

Larkin played with the Braddock Road Youth Club in northern Virginia and was called to the U.S. U-18 team camp. Her team claimed the 2012 U-16 US Youth Soccer National Championship, while also winning the U-16 and U-17 US Youth Soccer Virginia State Cup, and U-17 and U-18 US Youth Soccer National League division titles.

“Club soccer was amazing,” she said. “We wanted to win games, but we also focused on getting better as individual players. We had a small team and we were very close and most have gone on to play in college.”

One of the keys to her success has been taking care of her body, both by working out and eating right. “Good eating habits is something I’ve learned over time,” she said. “There are a lot of different ideas thrown around about what’s the best plan. And there are a lot of good plans but what it comes down to is knowing your own body. It’s something you learn over time.”

Larkin has gone through several different “transformations” when it comes nutrition. “I’ve tried many different things when it comes to what I eat the day before a game and the day of a game until I found what works best for my body,” said Larkin who was fortunate enough to grow up in a healthy household. “I like ice cream as much as the next person, but I have always been a pretty healthy eater. But there comes a time when you realize just how much what you eat impacts your body.”

3 Nutrition Tips

  1. Make sure you eat enough.
    Larkin says her biggest challenge is eating enough. “I have to make sure I am getting enough calories throughout the day and the right kind of calories at certain times depending my training schedule either that day or the day before,” she said.
  2.  Have your go-to foods.
    Larkin likes to load up her daily menu with healthy and beneficial foods. “Athletes need a lot of carbs, especially when you are playing games and practicing all the time. I like salads and eggs and grains and some type of protein. On the night before games, more pasta and some type of
    bread.”
  3. Eat pre-game meals.
    Eating smart and healthy the day of a game is very important at any level. Larkin says she is very particular about her pre-game meals. “The mornings are the easiest for me to plan,” she said. “I like to have almost a full bagel and some eggs, fruit and maybe a yogurt for breakfast.”