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USWNT's Christen Press' Game-Changing Diet Strategy

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We're psyched to see the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team take to the pitch at the FIFA Women's World Cup this month—and they've got a match today against Sweden. The one big question on our minds: What do the players need to eat in order to keep up with such an intense training schedule? So we asked, and they dished.

Here, forward Christen Press talks chocolate, meditation, and meal planning. Check back for more interviews with some of our favorite players about how they fuel their bodies to kick major butt on the field! (And see Press in the New Nike #BetterForIt Campaign.)

Shape: What's your go-to meal the night before a game?
Christen Press (CP): I mix up things a lot. I’ve learned from experience not to be too glued to one menu or routine in particular, because I never know where I’m going to be and what kind of cuisine it’s going to be. But if I can, I like to have a rice-based dinner; something a little bigger but still early in the evening.

Shape: What do you eat right before a game?
CP: It depends on the time of the game, but I usually have some kind of fruit smoothie with protein, and I’m a big fan of granola, so I usually eat that on game day at some point as well.

Shape: How many calories do you eat on game day compared to a normal day?
CP: On a normal day, I’m eating between 2500 and 3000 calories, so on a game day I’ll eat a couple hundred more; probably just over 3000. (Should You Count Calories to Lose Weight?)

Shape: What's your favorite "splurge" food?
CP: My weakness is chocolate—anything with chocolate! I love it!

Shape: Are there any nutrition rules that you try to stick to?
CP: I think the biggest thing is just not to eat until I’m stuffed. I eat lots of small meals throughout the day so that I stay energized, especially when we have multiple training sessions. When you’re getting all those sugars at once or all those carbs at once, you’re energy goes up and down, and I need it to be more consistent throughout the day.

Shape: Do you like to cook a lot or are you more a fan of eating out?
CP: I do like to cook! It’s more difficult because we are on the road all the time, but whenever I’m in one place I definitely cook. A normal night is a fish, some veggies, and quinoa sautéed with a nice sauce.

Shape: Do you have any quirky eating habits or routines?
CP: When I'm home, I like to plan out all of my workout routines and all of my eating for the whole week. I’m a once-a-week grocery shopper; I get everything I need for the week and then in the morning, I have my breakfast, pack three snacks, my lunch, and drinks to stay hydrated in a little cooler. I always have a snack on hand in case I get hungry throughout the day. I love my little cooler!

Shape: When you’re on the road, are there any specific foods to the U.S. or your hometown that you miss?
CP: My mom is a great cook and she does a lot of Creole food—I miss that jambalaya and gumbo type food, that’s what I associate with home and family. (Don't miss these 10 Recipes for an American Food Tour!)

Shape: Obviously, there's also a big connection between what you eat and how your skin looks. You have incredible skin! What’s your daily beauty regimen on most days?
CP: Since I’m just playing sports most days, it’s really quick. I always want to keep my skin clean when I get up in the morning and I use sunscreen before I go out to the field. For me, it’s important to have a sunscreen that doesn’t get into my eyes when I’m playing, so I use Coppertone’s ClearlySheer Sunny Days Face Lotion ($7; walmart.com). Then if I’m going out for dinner or drinks, I reapply the face sunscreen and throw on powder, blush, and some tinted Chapstick!

Shape: What's the one thing you always do before every game?
CP: I meditate every single day and it becomes even more important on game days because I’m a very high-energy, nervous person. I know that meditation brings me to my calm place; when I start the day from a relaxed place, it allows me to perform better in games. I don’t think about the game at all, I just focus on my mantra.

Shape: Can you tell us what your mantra is?
CP: I can’t tell you! I practice vedic meditation and you receive your individual mantra from the guru that teaches you. It’s a word in Sanskrit and you’re never supposed to say it or think about it outside of your meditation.

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