Food for Football
13 January 2020 by Iain Blackburn
Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that taking care of your nutrition has a huge number of benefits on performance and general health. With multi-billion pound contracts fueling 232,00 hours of Premier League coverage the pressure is enormous and professionals need to take every lifestyle aspect into consideration to improve performances that can be viewed by up to 3 billion people worldwide! This isn't such a problem for those right at the top of the game where a team of expert nutritionists and chefs can prepare diet plans and meals specifically for a players individual needs however as you work down to lower leagues and budgets get tighter, educating and providing players with optimal nutrition becomes a more difficult task.
"Whether you’re a chairman, coach or club nutritionist you will have a varying influence on the nutrition in your club and can help to make changes that may have larger impact"
More recently football has been catching up with the likes of Athletics, American Football and Bodybuilding by increasing focus on how perfecting nutrition can improve performance. Despite efforts and a wealth of knowledge available; pies, pizzas and takeaways are common post-match meals for many professional and semi-professional teams across the country, creating an imbalance in macros that can slow recovery therefore potentially increase risk of injury.
Research on nutrient intake in footballers is fairly scarce however, one thing is generally agreed - footballers are generally playing and recovering with deficiencies in carbohydrates. Focusing nutrition around key 2 areas may quickly help you to;
- Improve recovery time
- Improve performance
- Decrease chance of injury
1) Immediately after a game and/or hard training (0-4 hours) This time is vital to help refuel and recover. Snacks, shakes and carbohydrate drinks are highly recommended to quickly replenish glycogen stores followed by a well balanced meal providing a mix of nutrients
- 0.8-1g of carbohydrates per kg body weight per hour for first 4 hour period post-workout
- 60g protein (1.6g per kg body weight minimum, total daily)
- Minimum 20% calories from fat
What does this look like in real food? (In a 4 hour post exercise/game window
- 1 Post Exercise Shake (30g Whey Protein, 1 Banana, Teaspoon Peanut Butter, 80g Oats)
- 2 Bananas
- 1 x Pot O Gold, Black bean flavour
- 60g Dried Fruit
- 1 x handful of almonds (approx 30g)
- 1 Sports Electrolyte drink (e.g Lucozade Sport)
Although this may seem like a lot of food for a player around 74 kilograms, when spread over a 4 hour period starting from immediately after a game it is much more manageable.
2) Recovery and in between training and/or matches From the moment you finish a match or training you need to seriously consider refuelling for optimal recovery so that you can perform again at that the same (or higher) intensity. Or quite simply; Train → Eat correctly for recovery → Improve training quality → Eat correctly for recovery → Improve training quality and so on.
During this time GSN recommend;
- 5-10g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight per day
- 1.6-2.2g of protein per kg of body weight per day
- Minimum 20% overall calories from fat.
What would this look like as an average meal? (based on 7 meals a day)
- 1 x Piri Piri Pot O Gold
- 1 x Banana
- 1 x Small handful of almonds (approx 20g)
In both time periods we have included our very own Pots O Gold in what may at first appear to be some clever marketing. In actual fact the reason I have chosen to include our Pots is because these meals work wonders from a nutritional perspective. There isn't many footballers out there that would happily cook and measure chicken, rice and vegetables gram for gram for a post-match meal however coming as a reliable pre-cooked microwaveable meals our Pots can conveniently be taken onto the team bus or heated on the journey back from an away game. Each pots is measured to provide a quality balance of macro-nutrients that can be manipulated to hit specific nutrients levels at certain times e.g Post-Match also have banana and dried fruit to increase carbohydrates for replenishment.
We're exited to be working with several football clubs over the 2016/2017 season including Chesterfield FC, York City, Sheffield United and Notts County. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on how correct nutrition off the pitch can influence and improve performance on the pitch.