Paschendale Sports Club

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As you begin to understand how important it is for physical conditioning, you must also understand that these same principles apply to your eating habits too. Nutrition is the one component of an athletic program where most people are misinformed or misunderstood. Everywhere you turn, you hear or read about someone who had gained or lost 20 pounds in one week. This type of information is misleading and dangerous. As athletes, you must know facts about diet and dietary habits, in order to perform at your optimum level. You cannot run a high-performance racecar on kerosene. Excess weight in the form of fat reduces speed and endurance of any athlete. 

Proper nutrition is extremely important for football players. Because football requires short bursts of energy, eating enough carbohydrates is critical. As an athlete, you are always looking for the edge over your opponent. Nutrition is that edge. It does not only impact strength, speed and stamina, but recovery as well. You, as athletes, are responsible for taking control. You must provide your body with optimal body fueling. A player who comes to practice without having eaten breakfast or lunch, or skimps on fluid intake during hot summer practices, is not going to reach his full potential – which ultimately affects the performance of the team as a whole.

Carbs are the Key

Football is a stop-and-go sport with short burst of intense effort, followed by rest. Therefore, the primary fuel substrate for football is carbohydrates. An ideal diet for football players requires 55 to 60 percent of their daily caloric intake to come from carbohydrates, 15 percent from protein and 30 percent from fat. Simply stated, your diet should be 2/3 carbohydrates and 1/3 protein, with an emphasis on moderate fat. Carbohydrates-containing foods with lower fat should be emphasized: bagels over doughnuts, mashed potatoes over fries, grilled chicken over fried, frozen yogurt over ice cream. Upping the amount of carbohydrates in your diet will provide you with more available energy during practice and games. Less fried foods often decrease the chance of an upset stomach, which may also boost performance.

During Two-a-days/Pre-season, carbohydrates must be the main fuel source. Players will not recover in time for the next practice unless carbohydrate intakes are adequate. Watch your protein intake. While protein is needed in an athlete’s diet to build and maintain muscle mass, excess protein consumption will be stored as fat and may dehydrate the body. For example, turkey and cheese roll-ups, fruit, vegetables, Gatorade bars etc, are good food choices.

Post Game/Lift Snack

For optimal recovery after competition/practice or lifting, you need to consume a protein-carbohydrate mix. The snack should contain 6 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbohydrates. Suggestions include peanut butter crackers, trail mix, yogurt with cereal, a bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter, or a sports bar containing the right proportion. This snack should be consumed within 30 minutes after competition/practice or lifting for optimal benefit.


Pre-Game Meals

The primary goal for providing athletes with a pre-game meal is to fuel the body for competition. The best strategy is to choose lower-fat foods. Fats take longer to digest, so high-fat meals can leave the athlete with a full, heavy stomach and not enough energy to perform at his best. When planning a pre-game meal early in the day try to avoid foods such as, fried meats, fried potatoes, bacon, and sausage. Instead, choose foods that favor leaner protein and carbohydrates such as bread, cereal, and toast. For afternoon/evening games choose grilled, baked, or broiled meats, tomato instead of cream sauce, low-fat milk, and baked or broiled, instead of fried, potatoes.

Additional food options for pre-game meals include:
• Turkey or ham subs, fruit salad, frozen yogurt
• Eggs, waffles, ham, fruit
• Pasta with red meat sauce, grilled chicken, salad and fruit
• Smoothie, cereal, fruit
• 8-ounce cuts of steak with carbohydrates on the side. • For beverages: sports drinks, juices, and water.

Post-Game Meals

Before you sit down for a meal, you should begin by replenishing your fluids and carbohydrates immediately following the game/lifting … sports drinks, sports bars (containing the proper nutritional ratio), or fruit. This is usually the hungriest time for the players.

Some good choices include:
• Steak kebabs, rice
• Salmon, green beans, and corn
• Roast beef, mashed potatoes and salad
• Hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, baked potato and juice

When it comes to weight loss or weight gain, you must do it in small increments. In order to add Lean Muscle Mass and discard Fat Mass you must combine a proper nutritional plan and strength training program. By adding or subtracting the extra 500 to 1000 calories you are allowing your body to change it’s composition.

Tips for Weight Loss

To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week you must subtract 500 to 1000 calories per day to equal 3,500 calories per week.
• Eat more fruits and vegetables
• Limit fast food intake or make healthy fast food choices
• Drink more water 
• Limit your amount of carbonated drinks, sweets and chocolate, desserts, and other simple sugars.
• Do not eat any fried foods.
• Do not restrict carbs.
• Do not skip meals, but do decrease portion size. It is usually not the pasta that is the problem but the amount that you choose to eat! A little off the top at each meal works very well. For example, eat 25 chicken wings instead of 40, drink a 12-ounce beverage instead of a 20-ounce glass, or eat a 12-ounce steak instead of one that is 24 ounces.
• Trim calories by cutting down on condiments and snacks.
• Many find it easier to lose weight by eating smaller, more frequent meals that are more evenly divided throughout the day, instead of three meals.
• Decrease calories from beverages by diluting juices, choosing diet carbonated drinks or ice tea, and using smaller glasses.
• Include filling foods such as protein and foods that require chewing: salads, vegetables, a baked potatoes, meat, fruits.
• When eating fast food, choose regular instead of super-size meals.
• Put snacks into a bowl instead of sitting down with the whole bag.

Tips for Weight Gain

To gain 1 to 2 pounds per week, you must add 500 to 1000 calories per day to equal 3,500 extra calories a week. Simply put: you must take in more calories than you burn off!

• Eat 4 to 5 meals plus 2 to 3 snacks a day.
• Start a meal with food, not liquids, so have the sandwich first, then the shake.
• Replace low-or no-calorie beverages with juice, lemonade, milk, and sports drinks instead of water.
• Try to eat one-quarter more at every meal and snack.
• Keep snack food around to nibble on.
• Add higher calorie foods to every meal: granola instead of sugared cereal.
• Add nuts to cereal or snacks.
• Eat bagels instead of bread.
• Add more protein, but only four ounces more a day, through food, not supplements. Choose cheese, low-fat lunchmeats, an extra piece of chicken, milk and yogurt.

Eating on the Run

Breakfasts
• Pancakes, waffles, or French toast w/syrup – no butter
• Egg sandwich – no cheese
• Unbuttered English muffin, bran muffin, bagels or toast w/preserves, jam or apple butter
• Low-fat milk or yogurt w/fresh fruit and a bagel
• Low-fat granola bars – Kellogg’s or Nature Valley
• Dry or cooked cereals w/or w/o milk w/fresh or dried fruit
• Pita bread stuffed with peanut butter (high in calories) and raisins and cottage cheese, or veggies and low fat cheese.

Lunches
• Vegetables or chili stuffed potatoes
• Salad bars: use low fat dressings, veggies, dried beans, beets, carrots, pasta, and add crackers, rolls, or bread
• Pack lunches: Sandwich whole grain bread, fruit, fig bars, and vegetables or soup
• Pastas with meat or meatless sauce
• Tacos without sour cream
• Baked or broiled meats instead of fried
• Fantastic soups or pasta meals that can be reconstituted water
• Fast Food restaurants: Grilled chicken sandwiches, grilled hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches, baked potatoes, or salad bars (no mayonnaise, special sauce, butter, sour cream etc.)
• Thick crust pizzas with veggies – no extra cheese

Dinners
• Meats should be baked, broiled, or grilled instead of fried
• Pasta with clam sauce or marinara sauce
• Shellfish in tomato sauce or steamed without butter
• Chicken breast without the skin with rice and vegetables
• Stir fry dishes with lean meats and lots of vegetables in minimal oil
• Grilled salmon, tuna, swordfish, or mackerel

Snacks
• Whole grain crackers
• Graham crackers
• String cheese
• Low-fat yogurt
• Dry-roasted nuts
• Bread sticks
• Pretzels
• Dry cereal
• Fresh fruits
• Dried fruits
• Fruit juices
• Bagels

Watch the caffeine – It lowers blood sugar and can make your hungrier. It is also a diuretic and can be dehydrating.


Additional Ideas

• Bread, bagels, pita, muffins, biscuits or rolls with less than 2g of fat
• Cold cereal with less than 2g of fat
• Hot cereals
• Corn tortillas
• Air Popcorn – Unbuttered
• Pretzels, Rice cakes
• Pasta, Rice, Barley
• Crackers with 1g of fat
• Fresh vegetables
• All fresh fruit
• 1% Low fat or skim Milk
• 1% Low fat Yogurt
• Cheeses with 2 or fewer grams of fat/oz.
• Frozen dairy desserts with 2g of fat or less ½ cup
• Beef: Top Round
• Beef: Eye of Round 
• Pork: Tenderloin
• Chicken breast without skin • Egg Whites
• All dried beans, peas
• Canned Fish packed in Water

Fluid & Nutrition

It is well accepted that fluids and nutrition play a vital role in football performance, and that a player's requirements are different to that of non football players.

Optimizing fluid intake and nutrition leads to better health and higher standards of performance. This section addresses and provides guidelines for the key topics concerning a fluid plan, nutrition plan, fuel for performance, the importance of protein, good and bad fats, supplements, and pre- and postmatch food intake.


Fluids for Performance 
Losing fluid during training and playing is the body's way of controlling temperature and should be treated as a positive outcome. However, failure to replace the fluid is a major problem as excessive losses of fluid reduce your endurance capacity, power, reaction time and concentration. A fluid loss above 2% of your bodyweight is detrimental and should be prevented by following a fluid plan, that covers pre, during and post match drinking.
Thirst is not a good indicator of fluid needs - if you're thirsty then your probably too late!
Hyper-hydrating has proved to reduce the negative effects of fluid loss during games and training. This involves raising your body fluid level above the normal rate to counteract the inevitable fluid loss during the game or training.

Fluid Plan
During training and playing, the body controls its temperature by losing fluids, and failing to replace those fluids is a major problem. Excessive fluid loss reduces your endurance capacity, power, and concentration and increases reaction time. Losing more than 2 percent of your body weight in sweat is detrimental to performance and health.

Hyperhydrating-raising your body's fluid level above the normal rate-counteracts and reduces the negative effects of fluid loss during games and training.
A practical way to monitor sweat loss is to weigh yourself before and after exercise. Each pound of weight lost equals one pint of fluid, and each kilogram equals one and a half liters. These losses should be replaced as soon as possible by drinking water and sports drinks.

Once you have established your typical sweat loss, you do not need to weigh yourself every time. Practice your fluid plan during the week, particularly for heavy training sessions, and get used to drinking during training. It is advisable to avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can increase fluid loss.

Fuel for Performance 
To meet the demands of training and competing, players require food that can be broken down into usable energy. Carbohydrates are the most appropriate sources of fuel for football players, and they should form the bulk of caloric intake. Foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread are rich in carbohydrates and are broken down into glycogen (which produces energy) and distributed throughout the body to be used when exercising.

Intensive training and competing place heavy demands on glycogen stores. As these stores are depleted, fatigue occurs and performance drops until players "hit the wall" and run out entirely. Players can avoid emptying their glycogen tank by basing their carbohydrate intake on their body weight and activity levels. See fluid plan for more information.


Build and Repair 
Due to the intensity of football and the high strength and power requirements, players require a higher intake of protein compared to non-players. Muscle mass increases rely on a high level of protein intake but also require energy from other nutrients (fat and carbohydrates) to facilitate a positive energy balance.

Protein
Football players require a greater intake of protein than sedentary people do because protein builds muscle and helps to repair muscle damaged during contact or weight training. Protein is also an energy source, although that is not its primary role. It can be burned as a backup fuel to produce energy when glycogen levels are in short supply-like the crucial last 10 minutes of a tough game.

Similar to that for carbohydrates, protein intake should be regulated according to body weight and the amounts of strength, power, and contact training in the program. Players who want to increase or maintain muscle mass while following a demanding conditioning program require up to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight in their diet each day. Because it's difficult to take in enough meat, dairy products, and other protein-rich foods to meet that requirement in a day, many players use protein drinks (whey protein powder mixed with nonfat or low-fat milk or water) to help them reach this level of intake.



Guidelines for Fat Intake
Avoid saturated fats, such as visible fat on meat. Diets high in saturated fats and trans fats increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels and, therefore, the risk of heart disease, whereas most unsaturated fats have harmless or even helpful effects on one's lipid profile.
  • Eat fish two or three times a week to boost your intake of essential fish oils.
  • Use olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings.
  • Avoid eating fatty foods prior to and following exercise.

Too nervous to eat? 
Some players find it difficult to eat normally before a game. These players should focus on foods that they enjoy and perhaps a larger breakfast if they know that closer to the game they will struggle to eat. An energy shake may be a worthwhile option for such players. 

The Glycaemic Index 
Considering the influence of different types of carbohydrate foods is fundamental in your Nutrition Plan. Coaches and players are now recognising the importance of the Glycaemic Index. The Glycaemic Index provides a guideline for measuring the speed of energy release into the blood stream. Certain foods are rated with a high glycaemic index while others are low, and most fall in between.

The different types of carbohydrates vary in their rates of absorption, digestion, and influence on blood sugar levels. A food's glycemic index (GI) is used to describe the rate at which the food raises blood glucose levels. High-GI foods, such as white bread and honey, rapidly increase blood sugar and trigger the production of large amounts of insulin to counteract the rise. Low-GI carbohydrates, such as apples, porridge, oats, and lentils, have a slower rate of sugar absorption and therefore produce less insulin. Low-GI-carbohydrate-rich foods are more appropriate sources of energy for fueling training and competition, and they reduce the likelihood of carbohydrate intake increasing body fat amounts.