Match Day Nutrition - The Importance of Fuelling Up
Does it really matter what I eat before a game?
It matters a great deal. Your body is like a high performance engine, finely balanced and finely tuned. If you want to get maximum performance you need to feed it the right fuel before, during and after each session. Much like a high performance sports car, it need the right fuel and oil.
Fuelling up on carbohydrates (wholemeal pasta, rice, potato, wholegrain cereal) the night before and again at breakfast will maximize the amount of energy your muscles can store. Glucose is the fuel of the body and glycogen is stored-up glucose. Unlike chocolate (and fizzy drinks) which give a short lived energy boost, good fuelling from carbohydrate loading will sustain energy longer, delaying fatigue.
After an intense first half, energy levels start to fall. Low blood sugar reduces performance, affecting skill, stamina and concentration. It’s important to refuel as quickly as possible:
Half time- a snack of banana will boost energy in the 2nd half improving concentration and performance. Bananas are high in vitamin B (needed for energy) and potassium important for muscle function.
Refuel within half an hour of play. Delaying refuelling by longer than half an hour may delay muscle recovery. A drink of whole milk or healthy snack helps the body recover.
Follow snack with a well-balanced meal (Protein, carbohydrate & veg) ideally within two hours.
A few facts about milk:
Effective for rehydration - Milk is an excellent source of calcium and contains potassium; both important nutrients that need to be replaced after strenuous exercise.
Improves endurance - In one scientific study, those given skimmed milk cycled for 9 minutes longer than those given fluid replacement drinks
Helps build muscle tissue - The protein in milk helps build muscle and aids recovery. Milk’s high content of protein and carbohydrate can help refuel exhausted muscles.
Example Diet Ideas
BEFORE THE GAME
Porridge / muesli
Wholemeal toast with peanut butter/banana
DURING THE GAME
Raisins, dried fruit
Flapjacks, Granola bar
Water / mild squash
POST MATCH SNACK
Yoghurt/ fruit smoothie
Nuts & pulses, raisins and seeds
Chicken and vegetable pasta bake
Spaghetti bolognaise Lean turkey mince) & salad
Three bean Chilli con carne, rice, salad
Dahl (lentils) rice & salad
Grilled fish, potato, veg
Chicken, noodles stir fry & veg
Vegetable curry &, rice & yoghurt