Sport nutrition, diet or food and drink, for football (soccer) players is becoming increasingly scientific and recognised for its importance in the game of football. Almost every professional club will have a nutritionist or similar expert advisor for their team. This article covers the most important principles of sport nutrition for amateur players and coaches. More details are provided in Soccer Academy, our interactive football coaching software.
Why is sport nutrition or diet important in football?
- Food provides us with energy for our muscles, brain and other organs. Football requires plenty of exercise, and therefore it is important to have energy available to us during the game. The energy available to us at any particular time depends on our blood sugar levels .
- If we over-eat, we become over-weight. The heavier we are, the more work our muscles have to do to take us the same distance. This reduces our stamina, and our ability to accelerate quickly. If we under-eat, we can become weak and our overall health can decline, because we are not getting enough nutrients.
- A healthy diet improves our general level of health, and can 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.
- Diet is essential for our growth, and development.
Easy Steps to Improve Your Diet
Here are some easy steps to improve your diet.
- Eat breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day, so it should not be skipped.
- Reduce the amount of coffee, tea and cola that you drink, and replace them with water, fruit juice or other healthy drinks.
- Eat healthier snacks. Eat carrots, dry breakfast cereal, nuts, rice cakes, rye, crisp breads, bagels or toast rather than crisps, chocolate bars and sweets.
- Reduce sugary foods, for example by eliminating sugar from tea, coffee and breakfast cereal.
- Reduce your intake of fatty foods. For example, reduce the amount of butter, margarine, fatty meat, beef burgers, chips and crisps that you eat.
- Drink plenty of fluids before a match, at half-time and after the match, particularly in hot, humid weather.
- Avoid sugary snacks immediately before the start of a match. Fruit, such as bananas, or other carbohydrate-rich snacks are better. Avoid over-eating before a match.
- Replace fluids, salts and carbohydrates that you have used during the match (see below).
Diet and Recovery After A Match
Here are four tips to help you recover from a hard match or training session.
- Rest, and make sure you have enough sleep.
- Replace your body salts by eating. Most foods naturally contain salts, but fruit juices are particularly good choices, and these will also replace fluids.
- Replace your body carbohydrates by eating carbohydrate-rich foods within two hours after a match or training session.
- Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost through sweat.