Reign FC Nutrition with Dr. Susan Kleiner

Dr. Susan Kleiner of High Performance Nutrition, LLC is the official nutritionist of Seattle Reign FC. By working with Reign FC training staff and players, Dr. Kleiner ensures they get the foods they need to fuel their play on the field.

We spoke with Dr. Kleiner about the challenges of nutrition for soccer players, and the importance of the diets they follow.

Is there anything unique about nutrition for soccer players?

“The repeated high intensity and duration of outdoor soccer play in a variety of weather conditions can make it somewhat unique. Sports nutrition research has shown us that soccer players are highly affected by hydration, electrolyte status and fueling before and during the match, and recovery nutrition strategies post-match, because they often play a long, intense match in hot, humid weather and return to training quickly.”

“They benefit from carbohydrate fueling and electrolyte replenishment as part of their fluid and sports drink consumption. Female players work hard to stay physically light, fast and powerful, a combination that requires optimal food intake, but the timing of eating enough and still feeling empty enough to train hard can be tricky.”

How can you make sure players are getting the right kind of nutrition to play a full 90 minutes of soccer?

“Meals and snacks need to be dense with nutrients using a variety of foods from all food groups. Players have to focus on how to plan, shop and cook. We depend on a combination of healthy food choices, rich in plant foods but containing all foods and proteins, and sports-specific nutritional supplements. Then we customize based on the individual players’ needs. Food and supplements are timed around training and matches to maximize fueling and hydration, and minimize fullness and discomfort.”

What do you think players may often overlook in nutrition?

“Fueling and recovery nutrition are the two biggest areas of concern. Many of the players are so busy that they don’t give enough priority to their fueling and recovery. With the support of the Reign FC medical and coaching staff, fueling and hydration has really improved during the season.”

What are your go-to foods for post-game recovery?

“Very often athletes competing at high levels are not hungry right after events, but they must recovery quickly to take advantage of their muscles needs for fuel and nutrients. This is when liquid nutrition is a great choice, and recovery shakes or smoothies are very good choices.”