Footballers require stamina as they play for 90minutes, or more, if there’s extra time. They fuel with carbohydrates to give energy for their muscles for this period. Complex carbs are favoured as this supplies their bodies with slow release energy that will last longer. However during the game they may top up their glycogen stores with simple sugars in the form of energy drinks.
The right Oils and Fats
These are required to improve and optimise a footballer’s concentration. This is because the brain is made up of nearly 60% fat and fatty acids are needed for it to perform at it’s peak. Fish oils such as those from salmon are a great source, as are fats from nuts and seeds.
Protein is needed to help optimise not only muscular strength but also recovery after a match. Footballers eat protein at each meal and at intervals throughout the day. Sources include lean meats, yoghurts, milk, lentils and tofu. Dairy forms of protein are also beneficial as the calcium strengthens bones.
Vitamins, minerals and fibre
With matches and training, a footballer’s body is put under a lot of stress. However what they eat can help support their immune systems. Vitamins, minerals and fibre all help you produce energy and protect you from illness. For example vitamin A is important for growth and development and can be found in oranges, sweet potato and carrots. Vitamin C can help the immune system function properly and this is found in lemons, limes, kiwis and leafy greens.
Example of Match Day meals:
Breakfast: Slow release carbohydrates and some protein. For example boiled eggs followed by porridge with semi skimmed milk.
Lunch: If the match isn’t till the afternoon, lunch is kept light and low GI ( foods with slow release energy) such as brown rice and chicken with veg. Plenty of water is also drunk.
Pre match: Ensuring they are fully hydrated before a match is a must because losing as little as a 2% of your body weight through sweat will have a negative effect on physical and mental performance.
Half time: If playing for the full match, footballers often have an electrolyte / carbohydrate based drink and plenty of water.
Post Match: Lost fluids and carbohydrates must be replaced so the footballers are ready to train or play another match. They often have a protein and carb based recovery shake and then a solid balanced meal as soon as possible after playing.
TRUTH Cycling and circuits expert