What should a footballer’s diet look like?

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Many of you will wonder what a footballer should eat on a day to day basis. Diet is often a very tricky subject and getting it spot on, can be a difficult task. Training loads vary on a day to day basis and therefore your calorie expenditure will also vary.

Having said that here are my are my 4 main tips for optimal performance.

1.Eat natural unprocessed foods;  Natural unprocessed foods will give you the highest amount and best quality nutrients. The body needs these for optimal performance. Processed foods go through a thorough process in order to be cheaper,quicker to produce, taste better and have a longer shelf life. They often contain ingredients we are unaware of and are high in sugar or sweeteners. When shopping for foods it’s important to check out the ingredients label, with the most common ingredient being the first on a label, to the least common at the end of the label. You’ll be surprised what’s in some foods you eat on a day to day basis.  So stick to vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, chicken etc… you can’t go wrong with those!

2.Do not miss carbohydrates; It’s vitally important for any athlete to be consuming the right amount of carbohydrates. Cutting these out may allow you to look slightly leaner, but energy levels and performance will decrease as a consequence. Footballers train around 4 times per week with a game normally on a Saturday. Although training is often focused on recovery when the match schedule gets busy, players need to know when and what they should eat. Unfortunately the food served after training is not always the most appropriate, so if you are a footballer be aware of this.  Huge bowls of pasta day after day is not the way forward either. Our body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver as a source of energy when required. Once these storage’s are full, the body stores the rest within it’s fat stores.

So a typical 70kg footballer should be looking to consume around 3000-3300Kcal a day, however, this is really dependant on the session put on that day and the exertion of the athlete. The player should consume around 470g of carbohydrate a day, 1880Kcal approximately. Good sources of carbohydrate include brown pasta, brown rice and sweet potatoes. Brown pasta and rice are both better options because they are lower in calories and nutritionally denser than normal white pasta and rice, so I would choose these if possible.

3.Hydration; Keeping the body hydrated is vitally important. Not only is it important during games and training but also when relaxing at home on the sofa. Keeping the body hydrated has some of the following benefits.

  • Maintains health of every cell in the body
  • Aids in blood circulation
  • Carries nutrients and oxygen to cells
  • Helps to eliminate the byproducts of the body’s metabolism, such as lactic acid
  • Lubricates and cushions joints
  • Aids in digestion
  • Helps convert food to energy
  • Helps the body absorb nutrients

4.Stick to healthy treats; We all love a treat, it’s only normal.But it’s important to try and stick to healthier options when indulging on these . Having high sugar treats time after time will only give you more sugar cravings. Sugar is like a drug, the body always looks for some more.When consuming high amounts of sugar at once the body gets a sudden boost in energy, however, a crash is subsequently followed. You’ll often feel tired after consuming to much sugar throughout a day. Although things such as Jaffa cakes and Jelly babies are good during a game when energy levels are low, because they give you a quick boost, try and stay away from these on a day to day basis. Instead try and have a nut bar or perhaps some protein pancakes, these are lower in sugar,have nutritional benefits and actually taste amazing!

Nutrition is often undermined, but it is of huge importance in a performance environment.Of course we will never be perfect but sticking to the 4 points mentioned will not allow you to feel better, but perform better too!

 

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