Keeping fit for the beautiful game takes more than just regular practice: it’s also about great nutrition. And that doesn’t just mean the right foods, it means the right foods at the right time; your post-match snack is going to be different to the food that you eat while training, and both of these are different to the food that you eat for stamina just before a big game.
Today, it’s that third category that we’re going to be looking at, with a rundown of the key foods that should make their way into every footballer’s pre-match diet.
It might not get your taste buds tingling, but beetroot juice is a good choice thanks to the impressive burst of energy it provides. This is thanks to the nitrates, which help your muscles in three ways: improving blood flow, helping waste removal, and speeding up fuel delivery.
Bananas, apples and citrus fruits are all powerful stamina boosters – so a fruit salad before the match is never a terrible idea. By combining all three, you get the benefit of apple’s antioxidants, banana’s carbs, fibre and fructose, and the vitamin C that’s found in citrus.
Complex carbohydrates give a slow release of energy, which makes them ideal when you need stamina that will last throughout the full length of a football match. This includes food such as nuts, seeds, oatmeal and sweet potato and brown rice. As your body digests these particularly slowly, you’ll have enough energy for practice and the game itself.
Almonds and Walnuts
Omega-3 fatty acids are a really important nutrient to get into your diet if you take part in any sport, and football is certainly no exception. While fish is one popular (and effective) choice, you can also use walnuts and almonds to get your fill.
With all of the fibre and vitamin C that they contain, any leafy green veggies are a good choice for stamina and improved performance on the pitch. However, thanks to its additional helping of vitamin K (which helps strengthen your bones), kale is definitely the champion.
Remember, building your stamina isn’t just about choosing the right foods, but also about maintaining a suitable diet. Ideally, you want as much as 70% of your diet to come in the form of carbohydrates – with at least 2400 calories coming from carbs before a game.
With a well-balanced regular diet, and a carb-heavy pre-match meal, you should see your energy and stamina levels not just build, but stay at an optimal height.