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Feed the Machine: 4 Nutrition Principles for Football Players



Feed the Machine 4 Nutrition Principles for Football Players

Photo by Andy Kuzma from Pexels

Proper nutrition is vital for any football player. Besides giving you an edge over your opponents, it also significantly impacts your strength, speed, stamina, and recovery.

To stay at the top of your game, you must provide your body with optimal fueling. The cool thing is you can use plenty of nutritional principles to your advantage. Which are these principles? Here they are:

Take plenty of carbs

Football is a stop-and-go sport with short bursts of intense effort, followed by rest. This means you need a lot of energy, whose primary source is carbohydrates.

For the perfect results, ensure that 55-60% of your daily caloric intake comes from carbohydrates.

When you consume carbohydrates, it’s converted to glucose and stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When you need energy and the glucose in the cells is depleted, the liver makes glucose from glycogen stores.

If there is nothing in the stores, there is no energy, and if you haven’t taken a carbohydrate-rich diet, you end up running on empty, and your performance is significantly affected.

Just because you need carbohydrates doesn’t mean that you should take any carbohydrate-containing foods-take those with lower fat content. Excellent choices include: mashed potatoes, grilled chicken, doughnuts, and frozen yogurt.

By taking more carbohydrates in your diet, you provide your body with enough energy, while the less fried foods decrease the chances of having an upset stomach, which would affect your performance.

Carbohydrates provide your body with the fuel it needs when playing and help the body recover after a tough workout.

During a tough preseason workout, you need plenty of carbohydrates to realize a complete recovery. Without the recovery, all the hard work you have been putting in doesn’t translate to increased strength gains, which might see you even excluded from the team.

Watch your protein intake

While proteins aren’t the primary energy source for football players, they are a crucial part of the support system. We can say proteins are like protective gear and uniform—they provide protection, but don’t play the game.

Ensure that 10-35% of your calories come from proteins to stay healthy.

Besides the proteins helping you build and repair muscles, they also help with recovery by preventing muscle breakdown. You also need proteins to build hormones such as insulin (that regulates blood sugar) and thyroid to support the immune system and metabolism and regulate food digestion.

When you play without taking enough proteins, you risk illness, injury, and even feeling run down. Proteins provide you with energy in the event of extreme need, such as when the carbohydrate stores are depleted.

As much as you need proteins in your diet to build and maintain muscle mass, avoid taking too much of them, as excess protein intake might lead to excess weight as the extra proteins are stored as fat.

To avoid this, don’t consume all your proteins in one go-such as consuming all of the proteins at dinner. The best way to consume your proteins is to take small amounts throughout the day. For example, take small amounts of it in your breakfast, lunch, and snack foods.

By doing this, you not only avoid taking too many proteins in your body, but also feel fuller for longer, so you don’t have the urge to eat.

Excellent sources of protein include: fish, turkey, eggs, red meat, milk, cheese, and soy products.

The best proteins to take are low-fat proteins, but these are hard to find, so take the available proteins in moderation.

Don’t skimp on fat

Feed the Machine Nutrition Principles for Football Players

Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA from Pexels

As a football player, you need fat in your diet. If you aren’t overweight, you need as much as 35% of fat, but if you are on the heavier side, 20% is okay.

Besides fat being a long-term energy source, you need it as a transporter of fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K, which are vital for building muscles, the immune system, healthy bones, and red blood cells.

Fat also provides essential fatty acids, omega 3s, and omega 6s for healthy skin, brain function, blood clotting, blood pressure, and anti-inflammatory properties.

You should be ultra-cautious about the fats you consume. Two major fat groups you will come across are saturated and unsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are hard at room temperature and have been shown to increase the unhealthy low-density lipoprotein in blood cholesterol levels and significantly affect your performance.

The trans-fats you will find in processed foods such as margarine, cookies, and crackers are saturated and can compromise your health and performance.

To stay on the safe side, consume monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The best sources for these are avocados, fish, and nuts.

Consume enough water

You need water to stay hydrated and have an easy time recovering after the game. While most people know they need to drink water, most don’t know the right amount to drink.

A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight in half and get the amount of water (in ounces) you should drink each day. For example, if you weigh 200 lbs, aim to consume at least 100 ounces of water. One cup of water equals 8 ounces, so you need to drink 12 cups of water daily.

To have an easy time, drink 2 cups of water before each meal, then sip more between meals and workouts.

You need to drink enough water to recover quickly, but if you wake up exhausted even after being adequately hydrated, consider taking recovery mixes. These mixes have all the ingredients that will help you recover fast. Learn more about recovery mixes here.

Everything is under your control

As you have seen, it’s easy to feed your body healthily. When you observe the above principles, you don’t need to worry about additional vitamins and minerals, as your needs will already have been met.

You can easily take the right foods, but if you are having a hard time doing it, consult a professional to help you out. Of course, ensure that the professional is experienced enough. You don’t want a quark telling you what to eat, do you?

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