Football and Nutrition

Football Players and Nutrition

As we all know, football season is in full effect. I thought I would highlight what football athletes have to go through to maintain their statuesque figures while gaining strength, speed, and muscle mass. Football players might have a designated off-season but, even during that time they still train and adhere to specific diets.

Pre-season is the critical link between the off-season and regular season. During this time, training is physically draining and calorie demands are high. Important factors that need to be taken into consideration are weight loss, cramping, and meager energy levels. During this time, it really is the last chance before the season begins to address any nutritional habits that could interfere with peak performance on the field.

Here are some nutritional goals during the pre-season training season to maintain and build lean muscle, flexibility, hydration, and staying injury-free:

–        Consuming enough calories to maintain weight and muscle gains

–        Recovery nutrition, which includes consuming foods at the right time to stay strong and injury free

–        Drinking enough fluid to match sweat losses

–        55%-60% of total calories from CHO

–        12%-15% of total calories from Protein

–        25%-30% of total calories from Fat

Some nutritious high calorie food options include:

–        Trail mix- dried fruits and nuts

–        Large apple or banana nut fruit muffins with Greek yogurt

–        Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread

–        Large fruit smoothie with peanut butter, whey, or vegetarian protein alternative

–        12-inch whole wheat sub with “the works” (lean meat, cheese, oil, and veggies)

–        BBQ chicken breast, roasted potatoes, mac and cheese, and corn on the cob

While football players train, without the adequate amount of fuel before, during, and after, the weight and muscle gained in the off-season cannot be maintained. Making sure that football players get the right balance of carbs, fats, and protein are key to maintaining a healthy body during a long football season.

Here are a few suggestions of what NOT to eat while training in the off-season:

–        Fast food and sodas- these are problems especially  in young football athletes

–        Avoid as much processed or packaged food as possible

  • The more processed the food, the less real nutritional value to it

Suggestions for Breakfast:

–        Include some protein in the mornings. This will help your muscles continue the rebuilding process that began during sleep.

–        Skipping breakfast is one of the worst choices you can make.

–        If you’re in a hurry, eat a couple of dry waffles out of the toaster or grab two pieces of fruit. An ideal breakfast on the go would be a bagel with peanut butter, for carbs and protein, and some added fruit

Suggestions for Lunch:

–        This should be the smallest meal out of all 3 throughout the day.

–        Sandwiches on whole wheat bread or salads make for the best nutritious lunch

–        Make sure you avoid mayonnaise, sour creams, and dressings that are not low-fat.

–        Any meats should be baked, broiled, or grilled- not fried.

Suggestions for Dinner:

–        This is a dangerous meal time for some athletes- due to the ease of driving home past fast food restaurants

–        Make sure you pay attention to portion control

–        Lean meats baked/grilled/broiled, whole wheat pastas, fruits, and veggies are ideal at this time to replenish your body’s fuel tank

–        Keep in mind to not consume too many calories