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Sports Nutrition

Sport nutrition, diet or food and drink, for football 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. This section covers the most important principles of sport nutrition for Chris Williams Academies junior players and coaches.

Why 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, your diet can help to develop stamina and improve athletic performance. Diet is essential for your growth, and development.

Fuelling Your Performance

The timing of the meals you consume is important. On the day of a match the intake of fat and protein should be restricted, as these nutrients require a relatively long time to be digested.

Plan to have your pre-competition meal 3-4 hours before the match. Your pre-competition meal should be: high in carbohydrate (this is the fuel that your body needs to perform at the highest level), low in fat, low in protein, low in fibre, not too bulky, and easy to digest.

You should consume foods such as: breakfast cereal with low fat milk, toast or bread with jam/honey, sandwiches with banana/honey/jam, pasta/rice with low fat sauce, muffins, baked potato, fruit, energy bars, and orange juice.

A snack high in carbohydrate may be eaten about 2 hours before the match, however the time reference is only a guideline as there are great individual differences in the ability to digest food. It is a good idea for you to experiment with a variation of foods at different times before training sessions. Once the game is over, fluids should be replaced and carbohydrate should be consumed as soon as possible to promote recovery of glycogen stores. During the cool down you should consume fluids and small snacks.

As soon as possible you should aim to consume a meal which is high in carbohydrates. Foods such as pasta, spaghetti, rice, noodles, low fat pasta sauce, bread, potatoes, and baked beans should be consumed during this period.

Carbohydrate rich foods must be the main source of your diet. You should aim to consume the main bulk of your diet from complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates should not be consumed in large quantities and are more useful as snacks between workouts, or to top up your energy intake. The carbohydrate you consume should be balanced with a healthy intake of protein, low fat and plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Diet Plan

Football is a game of strength, speed and skill; all of which can be affected by what, when and how much a footballer eats and drinks. Footballers need to apply the same effort to proper fueling as they give during practices and competition. Players sometimes neglect nutrition, which can result in poor performance.

Proper nutrition is extremely important for football players. Because football requires short bursts of energy, eating enough carbohydrates is critical. As an athlete, you are always looking for the edge over your opponent. Nutrition is that edge. It does not only impact strength, speed and stamina, but recovery as well.

You, as athletes, are responsible for taking control. You must provide your body with optimal body fueling. A player who comes to practice without having eaten breakfast or lunch, or skimps on fluid intake during hot summer practices, is not going to reach his full potential – which ultimately affects the performance of the team as a whole.

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