We're sure that most of you reading this blog will at some point have dreamt of becoming a professional footballer. We all know that footballers sacrifice a lot to be able to perform at the highest level. But just how much of a sacrifice do they make when it comes down to their diet?
As a professional it is imperative that you keep to a healthy lifestyle. If you rewind the clock 20 years or so, the diet would not be so strict. However, with the evolution of the game it is so much more important for footballers to take their diet seriously.
A typical diet consists of plenty of carbohydrates.This will ensure that energy levels remain high throughout the course of the week, allowing the players to perform well in training and for the full duration of a match. Whole grains are the most common. These include whole wheat pasta, bread, brown rice and oats.
In addition, proteins are vitally important in the recovery process. High protein intake will reduce muscle soreness during a physical week on the training pitch and on match day. This will also prevent muscle loss as a result of the high level of energy that footballers expend whilst playing. As a result, this will maintain strength, power and muscle mass, which are responsible for acceleration, sprint speed and jumping.In addition, proteins are vitally important in the recovery process. High protein intake will reduce muscle soreness during a physical week on the training pitch and on match day. Protein is constantly being used by the body, and since the body doesn’t store protein, it is important that protein is consumed little and often throughout the day.
Obviously it goes without saying that fruit and vegetables are going to be needed. They are a very good source of vitamins and minerals and just think, the more colourful the plate the better. It’s certainly a challenge to get youngsters to incorporate these into their diet but if they want to become the next Cristiano Ronaldo, they don’t really have a choice!
It is important to remember that when we sweat we don't just lose water! We also lose electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, these are crucial to all chemical reactions in the body, this includes accessing stored energy in the muscles. So it is important to drink water, as well as also find solutions to replace these minerals so that performance isn't impacted. There are plenty of other energy drinks available that are suitable alternatives to water. But don’t be fooled into thinking these are in any way a substitute for the real thing. On average a professional should consume around 2 litres of water a day. It sounds simple enough but ask yourself if you currently do the same. This is a simple change that will make a big difference.
Nowadays, football clubs are more aware of how important diet is and they will employ some of the best chef’s available. It has become so important for footballers that many now even have their own private chef! Not a bad life really, is it?
Back in 2017 league 2 side Forest Green Rovers became the very first vegan football club in the world. You may be wondering what changes this would have to a footballers diet as a vegan diet does not consist of meat, dairy, eggs and so on. It's important to understand that it is possible to be a professional footballer whilst being vegan, in fact there are several who currently play at the top of the game e.g. Chris Smalling, Alex Morgan, Hector Bellerin.
So overall there are many aspects to think about when it comes to a footballers diet. But first and foremost, they need to be happy with what they are eating. There’s no value in giving people dishes that aren’t enjoyable to eat.
Not everyone can have professional chef’s cook all their meals, however as has been shown here, there are not many drastic changes that footballers make to their diet that you wouldn’t be able to do yourself. So why not give it a go?
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