Often you can hear a statement that nutrition is more important than training. But is that true? Actually, that’s not the right way to look at this problem. Look from a different perspective, where nutrition and training fit together like twins. You need enough fuel to train and compete optimally.
Nutrition can have a significant impact on sports performance. It’s a basis for successful training and game playing on a top level. Continue reading and find out nutrition guidelines you need for better football performance.
1. Before a match – when, how much and what to eat?
Pregame nutrition and hydration have significant importance on football performance. If you have minimal opportunities to rehydrate during the match, there is actually no opportunities to refuel during it.
It is important to maintain a balance of the basic nutrients. Carbohydrates should be the primary energy source because muscles and central nervous system primarily use carbohydrates during training. Adequate stores of glycogen to fuel for low and high-intensity times during a game will help you fight against fatigue. The amount of carbohydrate should be up to 60 % of your total calories for the day. Rice, baked potato, pasta, flapjack, banana, fruit yogurt, milkshake are all good sources of carbohydrate.
2. 3:2:1 rule
Use 3:2:1 ratio to determine how much energy should come from carbohydrate (3), protein (2) and fat (1). You don’t need to consume an excessive amount of protein before a match. Keep fat intake less than 80 grams (2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain almost 20 grams of fat). Don’t forget to hydrate with water and salty foods or a sports drink.
3. Last 4 hours before a match
Eat 2 to 4 hours before the match. On a match day use this timeline:
- 2 to 4 hours before the match (3:2:1 ratio). Example:
- soup, whole grain rice, pork chop, seasonal salad, fresh fruit
- 200-300g of carbohydrates
- breakfast (if a match is in the morning)
- scrambled eggs, peanut butter and toast
- 200-300g of carbohydrates
- 1 to 2 hours before the match:
- a sports drink (300 to 500 ml) and energy bars or a fruit smoothie
- 1g of carbohydrates per body weight
- less than 1 hour before the match:
- water or a sports drink
- it is better to drink 10 minutes than 30 minutes before a game starts to avoid unpleasant feeling when you need to go to the toilet during the first half
Tip: to avoid digestion problems, never try new food or fluid before a match.
4. During a match
In halftime, you need to rehydrate yourself. Drink up to 250/300 ml of a sports drink during halftime. Some football players also use energy bars or small chocolate bars. It is up to you to find what is suitable for you.
5. After a match – 4:1 rule
Eat as soon as possible. In the first hour after a match, focus on higher carbohydrate intake to allow your body to start the regeneration process faster. Carbohydrate and protein recovery shakes are the best option and you can consume it in a dressing room immediately after the game is finished and repeat this every hour until your main meal (dinner, lunch). You should consume four times the amount of calories in the form of carbohydrate than fat. After an hour increase percentage of protein intake, to allow your muscles to regenerate faster. Then eat well-balanced meals (3:2:1 rule) after every 2-3 hours to allow your body to restore all depleted fuels.
Tip: eat even if you are late. It is never too late for a proper meal.
If you train hard preparing yourself to be physically fit for a long season you have to support your body with proper nutrition. You have to eat more than average person, probably even more than you may think. Side effects of poor nutrition are a higher risk of injuries, increased chance of getting ill, a higher rate of physical exertion and so on. If you notice positive or negative effects on the field, a reason may be in your nutrition. Give it a try!
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