Eat Like You Want to Play: The In-Game Basics of Nutrition and Football Supplements
“In preparation you have the visible part, the training and you have the non-visible, what a player does out of training. That makes a super athlete.”
The opinion of the French avant-garde, Arsene Wenger, who arrived from Japan and completely revolutionized English football with his training methods, scouting insights and his unique approach to nutrition, which he called: The polar opposite nutritional philosophy… In the words of Arsene Wenger, a footballer cannot afford to practice every day in the pursuit of becoming a star and then end up eating something that destroys all the good work that they put in the “visible part” of their preparation.
Such is the importance of nutrition and football supplements in the eyes of the last-remaining-knight-of- his-ilk who has made stars out of the unpolished gems.
The Nutritional Plan of a Footballer – A Basic Sketch
Carbs, carbs and more carbs, without ignoring the proteins. “Typically footballers can struggle to get enough protein. They have grown up knowing they need a carb-based diet for energy” says James Collins, who was the lead nutritionist for England in 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Obsessed with building energy reservoirs, what footballers tend to forget is that proteins are important for muscle recovery, especially after a match or an explosive training day. Proteins are also important for muscle growth.
Sources of Proteins in a Footballer’s Diet:
- Vegan sources.
- Meat sources including red meat and white meat. Examples include, turkey, salmon, beef, boiled chicken and mackerel.
- Sushi and sashimi form a major part of the menu during the second phase of post match recovery.
- Then you also have protein-rich snacks like protein mousses and flapjacks.
- Sources of Carbohydrates in a Footballer’s Diet
So the basic sketch of every footballer’s nutritional plan should be a protein-plus-carbohydrate laden diet.
At this point, some readers may think of the excessive examples being quoted from the English game in the blog, but, there is a reason to it.
Unlike other leagues in the world of football, the English League is the only one that does not have a winter break and continues to entertain the sports’ fans for ten months a year. It is the most physically demanding league, and hence, it is only logical to inspire the foundations of our reasoning based on what is practiced in the English game.
Continuing with the narration, let’s now look at the subject of fluids and their importance to footballers.
Fluids in Football
Fluids are an essential part of a footballer’s nutrition as they help them to remain hydrated and maintain the electrolyte balance to perform on the pitch as well as on a training ground. They refuel the flushed muscles.
“In football, we perform tests on players to understand their sweat losses, individualizing their drinks accordingly” James Collins commented on fluid intake while giving an interview to Daily Telegraph’s Mark Bailey.
From juices and smoothies to simple water at room temperature, the right fluids can help boost the fitness levels of a footballer. And what better example to quote than the German star Mesut Ozil, who is now plying his trade at Arsenal Football Club.
During his previous stint at Real Madrid, the giants of Spanish football, Mesut Ozil was heavily criticized for his short-lived appearances on the pitch. Fatigued and exhausted, the football star was often subbed off around the 60th minute mark. This all changed when he moved to England.
In an interview he said: “Before, I liked to consume soft drinks and I did not drink enough water. Now I drink a lot of water and green tea. I feel much better in my body and muscle injuries are becoming increasingly rare.”
Football Supplements – The Importance
Players take nutritional football supplements:
To improve adaptation to training.
To improve performance by increasing energy supply and fast-tracking the recovery phase.
To retain a high level of performance.
However, one thing that every footballer should keep in mind is that they consult their nutritionist before taking a supplement and acclimatizing their bodies to its intake. “Players will only use carbohydrate or caffeine gels in a match if they have practiced using them in training. We know that getting this right at half-time can have a big impact on energy levels later in the second half,” concluded James Collins.
Football supplements in no way should be sought to cover the inadequacies of a poor diet. There is much to talk about in the world of nutrition and supplements in football, for now we would like to conclude our discussion.
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