Much of your performance in these departments can be heavily affected by pre-match nutrition.
So how can you use food to positively impact your showing?
And what should you be eating before a game to give you the edge?
We can break it down to the following requirements:
- Slow Release Carbohydrates
- Fast Release Carbohydrates
Fast Release Carbs - These are the carbs that are best to consume when kick-off is fast approaching, or even mid-game (anyone remember Rio Ferdinand cramming down Jaffa Cakes?). They have a high glycemic index, and raise your blood sugar and insulin levels - so they are best utilised for assisting you in exercise. Your source of fast-acting energy may come from a fruit and nut bar, a banana, or even some jelly babies.
Proteins - Should be consumed in moderation pre-match (10-30g), however research has shown that when taken on with carbohydrates, protein synthesis can speed up and bring about muscle recovery more effectively both during and after your game. This could mean a bit of chicken with your pasta, tuna with your baked potato, or some salmon in your brown baguette. Although nowhere near as vital as carbs, some pre-game protein will allow your body to replenish energy stores while you work. Extra-time anyone?!
Fluids - The deciding factor! Your hydration levels are the crucial element in extracting a premier performance consisting of sharp concentration, good execution of your technique, and total endurance. All from a solid supply of oxygenated blood full of all the right nutrients to your hard-working muscles. Take on plenty of water in the hours before a game (a sensible amount, around 1-2L - there is such thing as too much) and test your urine to make your own judgements. A pale yellow urine is a great indicator of optimal hydration levels, anything darker and you may need a few more swigs. Avoid the sports drinks until the hour leading up to kick-off for the blood sugar reason above. Research suggests that a 1% drop in hydration can affect your performance - keep on top of this one.
Pre-match ritual for a 3pm kick-off:
Meal 1: 10-11am - Porridge with Honey, Tea/Green Tea, 500ml water
Meal 2: 12pm - Pasta (100-200g), Grilled Chicken Breast (50-100g), 500ml water
Meal 3: 2pm (warm up/changing rooms) - 1 x fruit and nut bar, Lucozade Sport, more water