The Importance of Proper Pre and Post Match Nutrition for Athletes

By on April 5, 2017

In an interview with sports magazine Four Four Two, a good decade ago, world renowned soccer manager, Arsene Wenger, famously said: “Food is like kerosene. If you put the wrong one in the car, it’s not as quick as it should be.” After leaving Nagoya Grampus Eight in Japan, Wenger was the person responsible for changing his club’s eating habits and incorporating an overall healthier lifestyle.

Most people realize how soccer is a fast – not to mention intense – competitive team sport. To a certain degree, it requires players to eat smart, train hard, and always be at their best on and off the pitch.

Considering they’re in continuous movement throughout a 90-minute match, soccer players typically travel an average of 20 kilometers every game at various speeds. Endurance is one thing; speed is another.

Betfair Football, a news website that covers high-profile tournaments like the Champions League, pointed out how Pele once ran 100-meters in 11 seconds flat. What’s even more impressive is that he did it way before athletes and physicians had the luxury of sport science and nutritional guidance.

Soccer demands endurance and speed from its players. So for them to perform consistently and function correctly on the field, it all boils down to hard training and, of course, proper nutrition.

Essentially, taking in the right amount of food benefits both the body and mind. If the brain is not correctly fed, then an athlete can’t and won’t play to the best of his or her ability. The same philosophy is also applicable to fluid intake and replacement.

A basic, well-balanced meal for soccer players and athletes in general consists of healthy portions of carbohydrates and proteins, as well as fats and vitamins. They need these to fuel their bodies for the long haul of a rigorous match.

Since complex carbohydrates are the most common source of energy, it should account for 70% of a soccer player’s diet. This includes rice, bread, and pasta. In addition, they can get a good dose of complex carbohydrates from cereals, potatoes, and even fruits.

After a training session or a match, it’s important to refuel within 30 minutes after the final whistle. According to sports dietician Michelle Rockwell, this allows the body to recover more efficiently and optimizes its ability to replenish energy stores. In terms of what to eat post-training or after a match, some of the best meals include proteins such as fish, chicken, and eggs, as well as carbohydrates like pasta and rice.

Following a specific diet plan differs from person to person and it’s up to them to determine what works and what doesn’t, as these abovementioned ideas are sort of the building blocks, the foundation of how it should be. For more fitness tips, delicious recipes, and more, be sure to subscribe to Healthy Directions.


 

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