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The first nutritional requirement for all football players is a well balanced diet that supplies the right amount of energy and essential nutrients.

 

Key Tips

· Eat a variety of foods

· Eat plenty of starch-rich foods, e.g. bread, pasta, rice and cereals. Choose high-fibre (or brown) wherever possible)

· Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day (fresh, frozen, canned and juiced all count)

· REDUCE FATTY FOODS (chips, pizza etc)

· Eat protein-rich foods 2-3 times each day (meat, poultry, eggs, beans, cheese, quorn etc)

· Sweet, sugary foods can be useful sources of carbohydrate if you are exercising but should only be eaten in small quantities.

· Start refuelling with carbohydrate foods as soon as possible after exercise

· Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day as well as before, during and after exercise.

 

Carbohydrates

This is the most important fuel for an active person (it is stored in the muscles as glycogen, or energy). To maximise  your energy stores you need to keep your glycogen stores topped up each day.

 

Before exercise - Eat a low fat, high-carb snack or light meal (e.g. pasta) 2-3 hours before exercise. This allows the stomach to empty before the event  and allows your body to concentrate on exercise rather than digesting your food

 

During exercise - Sugary, non-carbonated drinks are best, e.g. diluted orange squash. As well as hydrating the body this also provides a ‘sugar boost’ for the body. NEVER HAVE BURGERS/CRISPS ETC – EVEN IF THE VAN DOES SMELL NICE!!!

 

After exercise - Refuel with low-fat, high-carb snacks within 2 hours of finishing exercise (this is particularly important if you are playing lots of games in a short period of time).

 

Aim to consume 1g carbohydrate per kg body weight after heavy exercise, or 0.5g per kg after light exercise.          See www.disen.org for more info.

 

Examples of 50g of carbohydrate

2 large bananas                  3 slices thick sliced bread

1 bagel                                500ml fruit juice

333ml fruit smoothie            1 large bowl cereal

6 jaffa cakes                         200g cooked pasta

4 tablespoons rice                 1 sheet of noodles

1 medium jacket potato          400g can of beans

 

Drink plenty - General rule (adjust during warm weather or lengthy exercise):

2 hours before exercise  400-600 ml fluid

During exercise               150-250ml fluid every 15-20 mins

After exercise                  Enough to replace fluids lost to sweat

 

What to drink

WATER, WATER, WATER!!! This really is the best drink of all, and it is free!

However, if exercise extends longer than an hour then choose diluted squash, diluted fruit juices or a suitable sports drink (not fizzy).

 

Fat will make you, well, fat!

Your body needs some fat for energy but you must limit the amount of saturated fats you eat (cakes, biscuits, chocolate etc). Instead look for foods that are reduced fat , e.g. (semi) skimmed milk, lean cuts of meat, and use less oil in cooking (bake or grill rather than fry).

 

Stick to the rules above and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

 

Remember:

·    These are guidelines only – if you eat a healthy, varied and balanced diet you should be fine

·    If you are in any doubt about your diet, speak to your parents or teachers

·    Don’t get too obsessed about your diet – follow the main rules and you will be OK

·    Enjoy your treats – just don’t have them all the time!

 

Source: British Dietetic Association, Feb 2004

Football Food - Fuel for Footballers