We are nearing towards the start of another footballing season with tennis, cricket and other sports rolling on throughout the year. The nutritional phase of a particular athlete is always important. We are here to analyse as to what is the best nutrition and training cycle for an athlete, on and off season.
Nutrition and Training In Off-Season: –
The nutritional phase in the off-season for an athlete is quite interesting. This phase is generally for resting, repairing and re-grouping of a body both mentally and physically. The most important thing is maintaining your body physically. For this, an athlete needs to follow certain diet rules food-wise to keep the body in check: –
1.) Off-Season Body Aims: –
If body weight is concerning an athlete, the focus should shift to reduce that in the off-season. This can be done by achieving levels that were touched during the previous season. To get to pre-season in a perfect shape, a perfect weight is a necessity for anyone for early running. In contradiction, to gain weight and physicality, muscle mass should be increased as there are no games or training sessions to dilute the energy intake.
2.) Matching Energy Intake and Expenditure: –
The less energy expenditure during an offseason should be matched by energy intakes. Reducing these energy intakes can only be done by taking fewer fats in any kind of meal. This can increase/decrease appetite but constant maintenance will make the body adjustable.
3.) The food intakes along with proper timings: –
Breakfast (6.30-7 a.m): –
Waking up early morning is a must for athletes at any time of the year. A light breakfast just to refresh the body is required. Things like Oatmeal, fruits, baked beans, toast and protein shakes can be taken to energise oneself. Around 50-60g of protein and 100g of carbs is a necessity. Early morning breakfast should have least fat content.
Mid-morning snack (Around 11 a.m): –
Having done the breakfast and a bit of running/exercise, snacks to keep up the body after the session are needed. Things like grilled chicken/potato, cucumbers, salad, fruits, etc can be taken at this time of the day.
Lunch (11.30 a.m-12 noon): –
Having lunch on time is always necessary, be it in offseason or during the season. The mid-day meal should have high contents of carbs and almost equal amount of fat and protein. Generally, during the season, less fat contents are advisable during lunch. Eatables like tuna along with pasta, fresh peas or a bit or rice is a good combination. Other things like light mayonnaise with pasta, fruit juices and celery stalk can also be taken.
Evening Snack (Around 6 p.m): –
The evening snack two hours before the supper is good but not necessary during off-season. Honey, baked potato, protein shake are mainly taken after another light exercise session in the late afternoon.
Drinking protein shake just before sleep is a must.
This was all about nutritional phase and diet plans for an athlete during the offseason. In the next section, we will take a look at diet plans during the season.
Nutrition and training during the season: –
Things change substantially when the season starts. Athletes have to be agiler and simultaneously more concentrated on a diet which keeps the body fit and refreshed all the time. Another thing which comes across as a misconception is that players tend to eat more extra food just because they think they are more active during the season. This is wrong as things which are eaten during a particular season, are for performance and body stability.
Pre-practice/training foods: –
There are pre and post-practice meals along with normal routine and pre-match snack have to be perfect in order to remain in good shape. Some of the pre-training foods are granola bars, fruits of all kinds, cheese slices and butter with bread. These intakes have to be done at least 15 minutes before going to report for training. One should avoid eating crispy fried things, breaded meats and sweet drinks just for taste purpose before any practice session or a match.
Energy and Building Foods: –
We classify the food intakes that are very useful for a player in between regular meals. One is energy food and the other is building foods. Energy foods consist of all fruits, cereal with milk, dry fruits (roasted or dry), wraps (wheat with stuffed veg/meat). On the other hand, building foods comprise of peanut butter with toast, yoghurt (plain or flavoured), cashew nuts, boiled black beans, half-fry eggs and cheese slices.
The importance of water: –
The best combination for any meal is protein + carbohydrate. Fat should be less especially during the season. Water is another very important thing to drink. One mouthful of water is equivalent to 1 ounce of fluid intake. Further, 1 ounce is equal to 218.67 calorie units. If we take one more parameter, 218.67 calorie is equal to 914 kJ of fluid intake. Such is the importance of water intake on regular basis.
Pre-match foods: –
Some of the pre-match meals are sandwiches of higher order, baked potatoes, pasta with bread sticks, fruits, low-fat milk, soups and stews. Yoghurt, pudding, water, iced tea and fruit juices are add-ons which give instant energy just before the game.
If a player gets cramps or muscles gets stretched, chicken noodle soup is the best solution along with pain-killers. The prevention of cramps during the game is – a good pre-game meal and high water intake.
Energy & Hydration Consistency: –
During a training session or a match, for every 15-20 minutes of fast running, approximately 6-8 ounces of water is needed to balance. These 20 minute-fast running generally occur within an hour of any session. So, 6-8 sips of water have to be taken after every hour in the training session.
For more sessions, carbohydrate intake is necessary. Things like a granola bar, cheese slices and energy fruit drink must be taken. The main advantage of carbs is that it keeps the brain switched on at every moment. We can imagine the importance of these foods in a game where mental awareness of a player is the most important part.
Post-game foods: –
After the match, recovery foods are very necessary. It has to be taken within 30 minutes after the completion of the game. Around 100 grams of carbs (peanut butter, cheese, sandwich, wraps, pretzels) and 20 grams of protein (choco milk, granola bar) are needed. Close to 20 ounces of water is also needed and fruit juices must be avoided.
This was all about the nutritional phase of an athlete on and off-season. Timing, amount and balance of the diet at any point is important. Disruption in normal routine would drastically change the dynamics of the body. More intake of carbs, proteins and water are advisable. Avoiding fats during the season is a must whereas taking in some offseason might not be a bad idea. Including grains in almost all meals will be good.