LA Galaxy Performance Blog presented by Herbalife

Nutrition Strategies for Match-Day Minus-1 | LA Galaxy Performance Blog presented by Herbalife


Herbalife is the sports nutrition and presenting partner for the LA Galaxy. Registered Dietitians at Herbalife work closely with the LA Galaxy technical staff to make sure we are maximizing their nutrition to support performance goals.

Fueling appropriately is a 24/7 job for athletes, with some important special considerations for the day approaching match-day. Read on to learn more about how to properly fuel your body the day before a game (AKA match-day minus-1 or MD-1) for the best chance at success on the pitch.

Importance of Proper Fueling Before Game Day

One of the most common causes of fatigue on the pitch is the depletion of carbohydrate stores within the body, so one of the major goals of proper fueling prior to match day is to maintain full storage levels within your muscle and liver.1 Fatigue is more than just feeling tired, it also comes with the reduction in skill, speed, strength, power, decision-making, concentration, and more.

Your liver and muscles store glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrate/glucose/sugar) in order to have a source of glucose ready for when your blood sugar (available energy) levels decrease. Your blood sugar levels decrease naturally during periods without food, triggering glycogen to be converted back into glucose. Your liver then releases that energy source (glucose) into the bloodstream to keep your blood sugar levels steady and stable, while your muscles use the glucose directly. When you are asleep and without food in your stomach overnight, some of these stores will be depleted. You also tap into these sources during exercise or games as your muscles utilize glucose at high rates, converting it into energy to fuel your activity.

Once your blood sugar decreases, if you have inadequate glycogen stores this means that your liver and muscles are unable to produce more glucose to fuel your performance. Since glucose is the primary source of energy for the brain, this is where fatigue kicks in - potentially leading to reductions in performance, including detriments to speed, decision-making, and overall skill.1 With reduced capabilities, it only makes sense that this fatigued state could break apart a game and lead to a loss if not mitigated. Carbs are an important energy source for athletes, and glycogen stores within the body can be dramatically reduced to ~50% or more following a game.2

The final 15 minutes of a soccer game are often the time when the starting lineup begins to feel the most fatigued and depleted, potentially leading to reductions in high intensity running, distance covered, and physical output.3 Many athletes have the goal of staying on the pitch the full 90 minutes, but around the 70th minute often marks the beginning of when we typically see multiple substitutes from the bench hit the field. Over all, professional soccer players will often cover up to 6-8 miles or 11-13 kilometers throughout a game, alternating between low intensity jogging and high intensity sprints.1

As you can see, there are high energy demands at play in order for an athlete to maintain peak performance for as long as possible during gameplay. This is why glycogen-loading is such an essential strategy on MD-1.

MD-1 Performance Plate

In order to ensure your muscle and liver is maxed out on glycogen leading up to the match, your Performance Plates should be adjusted accordingly to include even more carbohydrates. While the focus is on adding more carbs, that does not mean you neglect the other components of your Performance Plate.

When you build your plate, use the following as your guide:

  • Half plate of carbohydrates
  • Quarter plate of lean protein
  • Quarter plate of color (vegetables and fruit)
  • Fluids and electrolytes for hydration

Choose foods that you enjoy, but keep in mind that certain foods will not be beneficial to your performance if they cause indigestion, bloating, discomfort, or other negative symptoms that could impact your ability to sleep or last into the following day. Commonly, fatty, fried, and spicy foods can cause these issues, so it may be best to avoid these on MD-1 and on match day alike to prevent digestive discomfort before or during the match.

Examples of Carbs to add to your plate:

  • Whole grains
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes
  • Cereals
  • Bread
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Crackers

Examples of Proteins to add to your plate:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean beef/steak
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Soy/tofu
  • Beans
  • Nuts (also a good source of fiber and healthy fats!)

Examples of Fruits and Veggies to add to your plate:

  • Berries
  • Apple
  • Citrus fruits
  • Pineapple
  • Cucumber
  • Leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots

Try fresh, frozen, cooked, raw, in stews/soups – up to you! Shoot for a mix of colors for the most variety in nutrients and phytonutrients.

Examples of Hydration sources to complement your plate:

  • Water
  • Sparkling water
  • Sports drinks
  • Milk
  • 100% juice

Some may choose to have between 4-6 carb-rich meals and snacks on MD-1 in order to reach maximum glycogen stores. Remember to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after each meal and snack on MD-1, as well as how you feel on match-day. The goal is to feel energized and to reduce the chance for fatigue to set in too early during gameplay by boosting your glycogen stores the day prior.

Stay tuned for future articles to learn more about the recommended nutrition strategies for match-day.


  1. Hulton AT, Malone JJ, Clarke ND, MacLaren DPM. Energy Requirements and Nutritional Strategies for Male Soccer Players: A Review and Suggestions for Practice. Nutrients. 2022;14(3):657. Published 2022 Feb 4. doi:10.3390/nu14030657
  2. Krustrup P, Mohr M, Steensberg A, Bencke J, Kjaer M, Bangsbo J. Muscle and blood metabolites during a soccer game: implications for sprint performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(6):1165-1174. doi:10.1249/
  3. Mohr M, Krustrup P, Bangsbo J. Match performance of high-standard soccer players with special reference to development of fatigue. J Sports Sci. 2003;21(7):519-528. doi:10.1080/0264041031000071182