Go on, be honest… Not too much, I’d say. But you should. Whenever you see sportsmen and women at the top of their game they pay serious attention to nutrition. Be it a footballer eating lots of chicken and pasta or a tennis player eating a banana in-between games, the signs are there – signs we should educate ourselves and our children to be aware of if the want to improve their fitness levels and consequently, their game.
In the most basic terms, if you do not consume enough carbs (kcals/energy), then you will not have enough energy to complete the match (or training) meaning your performance will suffer, and more importantly you will be more susceptible to injury.
A healthy diet improves our general level of health and is essential for our growth, and development. It can also help us recover more quickly from injuries. Along with a program of fitness training, our diet can help us develop stamina and improve athletic performance.
What foods are good pre-match?
Carbohydrate 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. Around 3 hours before kick-off is ideal, though this is a guideline and not always feasible.
You should try 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.
Complex carbohydrates should, if possible, form the main part of your diet. Here are some examples:
- Breakfast Cereals (unsweetened)
- Pulses (beans, lentils, peas)
- Baked Beans
- Apricots, Peaches
Simple carbohydrates are great for that half time or mid-session boost.
- Sugar (Full sugar cordials)
- Jelly sweets
And post-match? Yes, you can help yourself by eating the right foods here too…
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, such as jelly sweets, jaffa cakes and jammy dodgers.
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.