Dietary Information For Football

 

Playing sport, particularly football, requires energy and a healthy body. Good nutrition will help players maintain their performance and enable them to recover between practice sessions and games.

Coaches should be able to offer nutritional advice as long as they understand the nutritional needs of a player.

It is important that good eating and drinking habits should be a part of the playerís lifestyle and should be tailored to meet the energy demands of the sport.

A Couple of Basic Rules

A large meal should not be eaten 3 hours before a practice session or game this will give you time to digest it properly. Players should be aware that during games or practice sessionís fluid intake is vitally important. I drink water or squash during sporting activity. Do not drink fizzy drinks as this may make a player feel bloated and even sick due to its gassy content.

Diabetes and Sport

Gary Mabbut Ex Tottenham Hotspurs and England International was a top class professional footballer who never let diabetes stand in his way of a very successful career, so neither should you, as long as you take care of yourself. Youngsters who have diabetes, like Gary, would need to drink water as their fluid intake.

If you have any medical condition that you may feel would hold you back, please discuss this with your family doctor before taking part in your chosen sport.

 Carbohydrate

There are three types of Carbohydrates; Complex, Simplex and Fibrous.

Complex Carbohydrates: Bread (brown and white), muesli, honey, boiled or jacket potatoes, parsnips, baked beans, peas, pasta, dried fruit (raisins) cornflakes, porridge, other healthy cereals, sweet corn, lentils, broad beans, nuts, rice, fresh fruit, vegetables and jelly babies. All of the above will supply a lengthy source of energy.

Fibrous Carbohydrates: Grain, bran and water-rich, non-starchy vegetables like celery, also should be consumed every day. The key to carbohydrate ingestion is to eat them in an unrefined state. In other words, sugar, the most refined, simple carbohydrate, creates the greatest stress on your carbohydrate-digestive system.

Simplex Carbohydrates: Sugars, sweets, chocolates, jams and marmalade's are less nutritious and contain some fat but can supply a quick source of energy. However, too much sugary food may raise the blood sugar level and fatigue could occur.

If any player has diabetes or any other illnesses, allergies or something that I haven't mentioned that would not allow them to follow the dietary advice above, please consult your family doctor or a dietician.

Protein

  This will be found in these food groups; white meat such as chicken and fish. It is also found in diary products and nuts.

Most balanced diets meet this requirement and so there is no need for footballers to eat large amounts of protein. Extra protein will not lead to increases in strength. This can only be achieved through a strength-training programme.

Fats

There are two kinds of fats, saturated and unsaturated.

Statistics show that most people eat too much saturated fat and footballers are no exception. The fat content in a personís diet should be no more than 25-30% of all total energy intake. If too much fat is consumed it may lead to cholesterol build up and blood pressure problems, as well as causing an increase in body weight. Fat is very high in energy but is not the form of energy required for football. Foods which are high in saturated fat, are as follows:

Fried foods e.g. chips, bacon butties, mayonnaise, fatty meats, butter, chocolate, some oils and dressings, some dairy products.

It is always better to grill food rather than fry it.

 It is vitally important to consume unsaturated fat e.g. oils from various nuts, seeds, grains, fish, as they are essential to life. Unsaturated fats are responsible for proper mineral absorption, nerve function, body flexibility, skin elasticity, organ and tissue repair. They are also a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Without unsaturated fats, the body will soon be in trouble.

Imagine what would happen if your car had no oil or lubricants in it. Your body is much the same.

Vitamins

You will find a number of essential Vitamins in fruits like: Apples - C, Oranges - C, Kiwi Fruit - C, Peaches - B, Pineapples - C, Plums - B and C, Strawberries - B and C, Water Melon - C, Apricots - A and C, Bananas - C, Blackberries - C, Cherries - A and C.

The above group are readily available from any good supermarket and you could replace your sweets and crisps with the above fruits, as they taste really nice.

Vitamin D, can be found in Milk, Vitamin E can be found in Peanuts. Be careful about any allergies.

Vitamin K, can be found in Lettuce, Cabbage, Broccoli and Cheese.

Calcium

Calcium can be found in Milk, Yogurt and in Cheese.

Iron

Iron can be found in Red Meat, Liver, Baked Beans, Apricots and a Baked Potato Skin.

Extra vitamins and minerals taken as supplements are unnecessary if a varied and balanced diet is followed.

There is no overwhelming evidence that nutritional supplements will improve performance.

Fibre

Fibre is not an energy source but it helps food to pass through the body and ensures the proper functioning of the digestive system. Fibre is found in these food groups; healthy cereals, bran flakes, peas, beans, seeds and other vegetables. A daily intake of 25-35 grams is recommended.

Players once educated should be aware of which food groups they need to eat and when they need to eat them. Players of all ages especially the youngsters should be encouraged to take a responsible attitude towards dietary needs and fluid intake.  Parents/guardians, and other family members, schools, coaches and even team mates can all help with the education of dietary information and fluid intake.

Fluid Intake

Drinking is vital to sustain football performance, especially amongst young players, since fluid loss can be very high. Dehydration will lead quickly to affect a playerís performance at any level. It will affect co-ordination and decision making, as well as being a major cause of fatigue.

Players should not wait until they are thirsty before taking a drink. Instead they need to have small amounts of fluid at regular intervals when involved in sporting activity. Water plays a vital part in regulating body temperature, especially during exercise. Water and minerals are lost through sweating and so it is important for this fluid to be replaced.

Children need special attention because they dehydrate quicker than adults.

Coaches should encourage all players to be responsible for their own fluid intake and the need to bring their own fluid to training sessions. I know by giving away Free Reeco's Soccer Schools water bottles and educating the children the importance of not sharing fluid, not even even with family members. I will help the players to understand why we should not do this. We all can help in this matter, as diseases like meningitis, hepatitis, herpes are carried by the human body and could be transmitted by sharing fluid. 

Carbohydrate Replacement

Replace your bodies carbohydrate loss by eating carbohydrate-rich foods within two hours after a match or training session.

A player is betting off taking a litre more of water to a training session/game than not enough.

If a player requires water no matter what the practice he/she should be encouraged to do so, as it is a good habit to try to instil at a young age.

A Sign of Dehydration

As a gauge, if a player urinates and the colour of the urine is a dark yellow colour that is one of the first signs of dehydration, if this occurs they will need to drink a healthy drink such as water, orange juice, milk, lucozade to re-hydrate their bodies but by drinking little and often, dehydration should never occur.

The advice given here is based on current medical science and recommendations.

I hope you have found this particular web page very informative. We can all make a difference that could help future generations.

 
 
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Theodore Roosevelt.

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