Avoiding Injury with Nutrition: Tips for Footballers
Did you know that what you eat and drink not only impacts your performance level, but also plays a critical role in preventing injuries too?
Below I've outlined some some quick eating strategies to boost your injury resilience (at the same time as maximising your athletic potential).
1. Hydration & Electrolyte Balance
Sweating during exercise can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can increase the risk of muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and other injuries which could occur as a result of tired movements and slowed reactions.
Adequate hydration is essential to maintain optimal physiological function on the pitch.
As a general guideline, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 500-600 ml of fluid 2-3 hours before exercise and 250-300 ml 10-20 minutes before exercise.
Try and grab a drink throughout training and matches aswell whenever the chance presents itself, taking only small sips to avoid stitch.
For prolonged exercise lasting longer than 60 minutes, electrolyte replacement drinks such as lucozade which contain sodium and potassium are a better choice than water for maintaining proper fluid balance.
2. Carbohydrate Loading & Muscle Glycogen
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for your high-intensity play.
Consuming adequate carbohydrates will help maximise your muscle glycogen stores, which will delay fatigue and maintain your athletic performance.
High-carbohydrate foods such as whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables should be consumed in sufficient quantities to support your training and competition demands.
As a rule of thumb, your pre-match eating plan should always start atleast 24 hours before kick off.
3. Protein & Muscle Recovery
Protein is essential for repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue, which will reduce the risk of injury and promote recovery after training and matches.
You should opt for high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy and plant-based sources such as beans, legumes and nuts whenever possible.
A protein intake of 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight per day is what you should aim for, you can get a more accurate figure specific to you by using the myfitnesspal app.
4. Healthy Fats & Inflammation
Consuming adequate amounts of healthy fats can help reduce inflammation, which will decrease injury risk and enhance your athletic performance.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel can help reduce inflammation and promote recovery after exercise.
Plant-based sources of healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and avocados will also provide important health benefits.
5. Vitamins & Minerals
Certain vitamins and minerals play essential roles in maintaining optimal health and preventing injury.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, if you train indoors or in low-sunlight environments consistently you may be at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Calcium is essential for bone health and is found in dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods. Iron is also essential for oxygen transportation around the body and is found in lean meats, fish, poultry, and plant-based sources such as beans, lentils and spinach.
Try not to overthink it.
If you're implementing the nutrition recommendations we've outlined in previous blogs, you're highly likely to be ticking all of these boxes already!
If you would like step by step guidelines on what foods to buy and how to create your own effective meal plan, that's covered on video inside our Football Nutrition Guide.
...If you understand the benefits but just want to focus your time on playing/training, then you can have us design a sustainable and effective meal plan specifically for you. We now offer a custom meal plan service, you can find all of the details HERE.
Our Elite Programme players get this all included plus ongoing daily support from our Sports Nutritionist, AND it's built around their personalised training programme. If you want to be part of the 1%, then check out the details of our Elite Programme HERE.