Easy Steps To Improve Your Diet...
"In his early days
at Arsenal, Tony Adams ate far too much steak and chips and junk food. His
performance only improved when he switched to a diet of fish, chicken,
vegetables and fruit."
The days when
professional players tackled a steak before a game, in the misguided belief that
it would aid strength and fitness, are long gone. Much attention is now devoted
to ensuring athletes take in the right food and drink. Nowadays, getting it
right can make the difference between winning and losing.
Food is the body's fuel,
providing the energy to allow muscles to work. Without food and drink the body
cannot function. Without the right foods there is no energy. Without petrol, the
car will stop. Poor quality fuel will leave the car working inefficiently. So,
lack of food or poor quality food will cause footballers to under-perform.
Right Foods For Footballers
In general, the body's
energy supply comes from the three main types of foods - proteins, fats and
Fatty foods contain the
most energy but are useless as an energy source during the high-intensity
activities associated with football (e.g. sprinting). They can only used during
lower intensity aerobic exercises such as jogging.
contain energy which can be used to fuel the muscles for prolonged aerobic
activities and for shorter anaerobic activities such as sprinting.
Therefore, carbohydrate foods are ideal energy sources for footballers.
Protein foods are used by
the body as energy sources usually after 45 minutes of exercise. Again, this is
ideal for footballers.
Importance of Carbohydrates
professional outfield players run about 5-8 miles in a game and are in personal
posession of the ball for a total of only of 3 minutes. As a result they use up
huge amounts of carbohydrate energy. These carbohydrates must be replaced after
the match - the sooner the better. However, in the two days prior to a match,
professional footballers increase the amount of carbohydrates they eat. In this
way, their muscles are fully prepared for the exercise which lies ahead.
Is is very easy to
dehydrate as a result of exercise especially during the summer months. However,
relacing lost fluids is not a simple matter;
Drinks which are very
fizzy, or very cold should not be drunk during periods of exercise as they often
lead to stomach pains. Also, drinking great quantites at one go should be
avoided for the same reasons - `little and often' is a good rule. Well-known
sports drinks like Isotar, Gatorade and Lucosade Sport are ideal to take during
exercise as is plain water. Carbohydrate drinks such as Coca-Cola, Lucozade and
Orange Barley contain too much carbohydrates to be taken during exercise but are
Food and Drink for Footballers
Sport nutrition, diet or
food and drink, for footballers players is becoming increasingly scientific and
recognised for its importance in the game of football. Almost every professional
club will have a nutritionist or similar expert advisor for their team.
is sport nutrition or diet important in football?
Food provides us with
energy for our muscles, brain and other organs. Football requires plenty of
exercise, and therefore it is important to have energy available to us during
the game. The energy available to us at any particular time depends on our blood
sugar levels .
If we over-eat, we become
over-weight. The heavier we are, the more work our muscles have to do to take us
the same distance. This reduces our stamina, and our ability to accelerate
quickly. If we under-eat, we can become weak and our overall health can decline,
because we are not getting enough nutrients.
A healthy diet improves
our general level of health, and can help us recover more quickly from injuries.
Along with a program of
fitness training, our diet can help us develop stamina and improve athletic
Diet is essential for our
growth, and development.
Steps to Improve Your Diet
Eat breakfast. This is
the most important meal of the day, so it should not be skipped.
Reduce the amount of
coffee, tea and cola that you drink, and replace them with water, fruit juice or
other healthy drinks.
Eat healthier snacks. Eat
carrots, dry breakfast cereal, nuts, rice cakes, rye, crisp breads, bagels or
toast rather than crisps, chocolate bars and sweets.
Reduce sugary foods, for
example by eliminating sugar from tea, coffee and breakfast cereal.
Reduce your intake of
fatty foods. For example, reduce the amount of butter, margarine, fatty meat,
beef burgers, chips and crisps that you eat.
Drink plenty of fluids
before a match, at half-time and after the match, particularly in hot, humid
Avoid sugary snacks
immediately before the start of a match. Fruit, such as bananas, or other
carbohydrate-rich snacks are better. Avoid over-eating before a match.
Replace fluids, salts and
carbohydrates that you have used during the match (see below).
After A Match
Here are four tips to help
you recover from a hard match or training session.
Rest, and make sure you
have enough sleep.
Replace your body salts
by eating. Most foods naturally contain salts, but fruit juices are particularly
good choices, and these will also replace fluids.
Replace your body
carbohydrates by eating
within two hours after a match or training session.
Drink plenty of fluids to
replace those lost through sweat.
- General Dos and Donts:
- Cut down on fatty
foods such as chips, crisps and fried food.
- Cut down on red meat,
pasties, pies and sausage rolls.
- Replace 'simple'
carbohydrates like sweets, biscuits and cakes with fruit.
- Eat more 'complex'
carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, rice, vegetables and cerials.
- Don't eat immediately
before a match or training. Allow time for the food to be digested.
- Don't play on an empty
- Don't delay eating
after taking exercise. Try to eat within 2 hours.
A young athletes diet
should be based around high carbohydrate foods, where 60% of the total energy
intake should be from carbohydrate sources, between 12-15% from protein, and
25-30% from fat. The carbohydrate intake should be modified if a player is
injured or ill, to around 50% of total energy intake. Young footballers who
are training regularly should have a daily target of 8-10g of carbohydrate per
kg of body weight (e.g. player with 40kg of body weight = 40 x 8g = 320 g per
A diet that is high in carbohydrate and fluids, moderate in protein and low in
fat will give athletes enough calories and nutrients to grow, train and
compete. Below are some suggestions of recommended meals and snacks and foods
to avoid before, during, and after games.
High fat foods
High protein foods
Chocolate bars Doughnuts
Fizzy or carbonated drinks
should drink water before, during, and after exercise.
Before exercise: Drink 10-14 ounces cold water 1-2 hours before game. Drink 10
oz of cold water 10-15 min. before activity.
During exercise: Drink 3-4 oz of cold water every 15 minutes.
After exercise: Drink as much cold water as needed to quench thirst.
N.B. - Thirst does not indicate when an athlete needs to re-hydrate, if an
athlete is thirsty then they are already de-hydrated, the trick is to monitor
your consumption to avoid dehydration and thirst.
Cereal (without sugar)
Toast with egg or cheese
Fizzy or Carbonated drinks
Lots of butter or margarine
Between game snacks
Baked potato & chilli
Yogurt/Milk Shake (skimmed or low fat)
Pasta (careful of high fat sauces)
Turkey sandwich (brown or wholemeal bread)
Roast beef Sandwich (brown or wholemeal)
Fizzy or carbonated drinks
Mashed potato & gravy
Lots of butter or margarine
Mayo and cheese
cheese, peanut butter with saltine crackers Yogurt with bananas, apples,
pears, nectarines, oranges, Frozen yogurt, milk, pudding, pretzels, Italian
bread with low fat cheese or margarine.