Follow our series of top tips for footballers, following on here with number 3, to gradually but dramatically improve your game.
- It’s All About Your Diet
You need to start to reflect on what food you are eating. What you put into your body will determine what you can expect to get out of it. At IHM our coaching staff are trained to be able to provide players with responsible advice on what to eat and drink to help them keep in good physical shape.
Your diet is your responsibility. It’s ultimately up to you what and how much you eat and drink. Being strict with your diet is going to get you into the best shape possible if you also train well. But, please do not get too worried about it. You can treat yourself to something just because it tastes good every so often. It’s fine to reward yourself every so often.
Whole grain carbs, protein and limit your fat intake
So, what is the best diet for a young footballer? Carbohydrates and Proteins are essential and must always be included in your diet. They give you energy and allow you to recover after training or match play so that your body can heal itself and repair. Having a bowl of whole grain pasta a couple of hours before a big game is one of the easiest ways to get the slow release energy you’ll need if you’re playing for 90 minutes. Lean white meat and oily fish, such as chicken and turkey, salmon and mackerel are great sources of protein. As a general rule try to eat whole grain pasta, bread and rice and don’t eat too much fat. Avoid white potatoes and refined carbs, like white bread.
7 to 9 Portions of Fruit & Veg Per Day
Fruit and vegetables are a key component of any healthy footballer’s diet. If you don’t like them, well, you just need to get to like them. It doesn’t take long to get your taste buds used to the good stuff. Stick with it and within a couple of weeks you’ll really enjoy the taste! They’re a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals and so should be a regular accompaniment to your favourite dishes.
Breakfast is key
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. You need to always have a good breakfast to make sure that as a young football player, you are sufficiently fuelled for a match day or training day. Porridge is ideal containing fibre and is a slow energy release carb. Add fruit, but not sugar or syrup, to get one of your 7 to 9 a day. Bags of frozen fruit can be bought from supermarkets and kept for breakfast porridge. Frozen fruit is convenient, lasts a long time and contains all the same fibre and nutrients that can be found in the fresh version. Wholegrain toasted bread with a low cholesterol / fat spread is also a good breakfast.
Drinking adequate water is also incredibly important. The average professional footballer will consume between 2-2.5 litres of fluids per day. Try and work towards that level if possible. When you exert yourself through exercise you sweat and lose water. If you don’t top up your hydration you risk becoming dehydrated.
Isotonic sports drinks taken during and after training will give you the carbs and electrolytes you need. These drinks can help delay fatigue.
Most Important! Try to Enjoy Food
It’s not always easy to eat well. You may have to eat the food that is provided to you by parents or the school canteen. But, if you start to take an interest in your food, start to read the labels and look at the ingredients, you can start to have a say in what you do eat. It can be particularly tough when you are young, all the stuff that’s bad for you tastes great, but all the good food doesn’t taste so good! But, wait! Be realistic, don’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t need to completely disregard your favourite snacks and meals, just be aware how a healthy, balanced diet can give you the edge. As you get older this becomes even more important.
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