For years football lagged behind many other sports when it came to nutrition. People who played football – even professionals – ate regular food, drank regularly, and thought nothing of it.
However, proper nutrition is now becoming standard practice not just at the professional levels, but even among people who just play football for fun. Eating the right foods can improve performance and prolong careers, and is one of the most effective way to maximize your skills and abilities.
Football places high demands on participants – you need to have good endurance, be able to produce intense efforts over and over again, jump, turn and maneuver quickly, and be strong enough to withstand hard tackles.
Footballers’ training reflects the varied demands of their sport, and their nutrition needs to support it. They need the endurance of middle distance runners, the speed of sprinters, and the strength and agility of track and field athletes.
That means their nutrition has to support those types of efforts. Footballers need more lean muscle than a marathon runner, but have to be lighter and more agile than a rugby player. Their nutrition therefore needs to focus on building lean muscle, keeping body fat levels down, and recovering quickly.
Building functional muscle and staying lean means eating sufficient protein. Protein, from a source such as whey, is essential for building and maintaining strong muscles – it also helps keep body fat percentages low, aids in fast recovery from tough workouts, and supports the immune system.
You will also need sufficient healthy carbs to maintain energy levels over a ninety minute game – these should mostly come from fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains, but you will also need to use recovery drinks that include carbs and protein to be sure that you recover quickly from one workout to the next.