Football players need to be as intentional with their diets as they are with their workouts. Diet and nutrition are often overlooked if not neglected by young athletes, but it is important to remember that up to 80% of what determines an athletes performance is the quality of their nutrition. Despite being told that you need to consume the maximum amount of calories possible, or that you can eat whatever you want, a big part of proper nutrition is not consuming the things you shouldn’t.
The things you don’t eat can be just as important, if not more important, then the things you do eat. It is impossible for your body to perform at its peak when consuming high amounts of processed foods or high sugar foods. These types of foods actually require your body to work harder to digest and break them down, stealing energy that could otherwise be used to boost your performance on the field. Do your research and pay attention to what you are eating. Make sure to read the labels and know what you are putting into your body. Avoiding harmful and unhealthy foods can enhance your overall well-being and performance drastically.
Instead of taking the easy route and eating fast food 3 times a day try as often as possible to eat whole and unprocessed foods at home (or pre-made when on the road). Taking it one step further, even when at home watch what you eat. Just because you are eating at home and not at a restaurant doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Instead of white bread consider whole wheat bread. Instead of processed cereal consider steel cut oats. There are many healthy alternatives that you can take which may go a long way in boosting your performance.
As with any sport hydration is key. You’ve heard it time and time again, drink lots of fluids, but make sure they are the right fluids. You can’t get enough water and electrolytes, but you need to watch your sugar and caffeine intake as these can have multiple adverse effects on your health and performance. During game play, training and recovery your body needs good hydration.
Below you will find a daily sample diet that Scoutlete has put together to help provide an idea of what Football players should be focusing on throughout the day to ensure they can reach optimal performance levels.
A good diet always starts first thing in the morning. Whether you ‘feel’ hungry or not when you wake up in the morning breakfast is crucial and helps to set your energy and metabolism for the remainder of the day. Starting your day with a good balance of protein, carbs, fruits and vegetables with help you to practice and play hard. Some good breakfast choices are:
– Fruits and Juices
– Whole Grain Cereal
– Whole Grain Toast
– Eggs (Healthier Choice: Egg Whites)
– Bacon (Healthier Choice: Turkey Bacon)
– Omelets with Vegetables
– Cottage Cheese
As an active athlete it is important to keep your energy up throughout the day. Try to eat every 2-3 hours and add a minimum of 2 snacks into your daily routine. It is important to focus on making your snacks real foods. Some good snack choices are:
– Whole Fruits
– Protein Shakes
– Nut Butters
– Cottage Cheese
Midway through the day it is key to feed your body the healthy fats, carbs and proteins it has been burning all morning in order to help in recovery and/or preparation. If you are on the road or eating out, make the smart choices and stick to things you know will help your performance. Instant gratification won’t help your gameplay. Some good lunch choices are:
– Whole Wheat Pasta
– Whole Fruits
– Steamed Broccoli
– Turkey Burgers
– Grilled Chicken
– Brown Rice
– Sweet Potatoes
Your dinnertime should be focused on getting your body lean protein, vegetables and healthy carbs. As a football player you may need to consume more calories than some of those around you, but it is crucial that you do so while also placing a focus on lean meats, healthy carbs and fats as well as lots of vegetables. Some good dinner choices are:
– Vegetables and Legumes such as Spinach, Asparagus, Broccoli, Lentils, Kidney Beans Chick Peas etc.
– Leans Meats such as Fish, Poultry and Eggs
– Bison or Turkey Burgers
– Sweet Potatoes and Mixed Vegetables
– Whole Wheat Pastas
– Whole Milk
– Brown or Long Grain Rice
Not only can proper nutrition help your performance from game to game, but it can radically increase your careers longevity by helping to prevent injuries and keep you otherwise healthy. It is important, as with other sports, to focus your meals and snacks on healthy carbs, healthy fats, protein and lots of fruits and vegetables. Changing your mindset and developing good habits now can help to ensure a long and prosperous career in Football.
For more information you can check out NFL grub: Nutrition tips from Rashad Jennings presented by NFL.COM or head over to NFL UP! to see even more Professional Football Player tips on nutrition and working out.
Tags: Eat For Your Sport, football, Health, Healthy, Nutrition, Performance, scoutlete