Specific nutrient requirements are based on your body size and position. What works for one player may not be the best strategy for someone else. But, all players can benefit from the following guidelines:
Organize the food on your plate into a peace sign. Break your plate into thirds, placing a protein in one-third, a starch [rice, pasta, potato] in a second, and a fruit and/or vegetable in the last.
Consume at least three meals per day with snacks between. Try to eat every four hours. Your daily caloric total should range between 20 to 25 calories per pound of body weight.
Skipping breakfast is not an option, especially when you have early morning practice or lifting. If you’re not overly hungry, try a lighter alternative such as a milkshake, yogurt, cereal or fruit, or even a sports drink and sports bar.
Take breaks to rehydrate. Drink early and often to sustain performance. Consume fluids during training sessions, and follow these guidelines:
- Gulp, don’t sip.
- Swallow fluids; don’t spit.
- Drink, don’t pour on your head.
- Do not over drink. Don’t come to a training session with a gallon jug of water. Consume fluid as the guidelines suggest: 20 oz one hour before; and during, consume based on your sweat rate (see below).
Football is a game of strength, speed and stamina—so you need to eat enough carbohydrate to fuel your muscles and brain during activity. Every meal or snack should contain carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, bagels, tortillas, rice, pasta, quinoa, barley, potatoes, corn, fruit, vegetables, juice, crackers and pretzels. Likewise, you should also consume protein for muscle growth and a healthy immune system. Try eggs, jerky, nuts, peanut butter, baked beans, bean dip, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish/shellfish, tofu, low fat milk, yogurt and low fat cheeses. You can measure your daily protein intake using the following formulas:
Minimum grams: 0.6 x bodyweight [pounds]
Maximum grams: 0.9 x bodyweight [pounds]
Pre-, during, and post-training guidelines
1 hour before
Drink 20 oz of a sports drink or water with a small amount of carbohydrates, such as a handful of pretzels or cereal or a granola bar Include some protein such as ¼ C nuts, a few pieces of jerky, an 8 oz low-fat yogurt, or 12 oz of low-fat chocolate milk
Drink enough fluid per hour based on your sweat rate, which you can determine with the formula below:
- 1. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. Try to weigh in wearing as little clothing as possible
- Keep track of the number of ounces of fluid you consume during exercise
- Subtract your post-exercise weight from your preexercise weight, then convert it to ounces [16 ounces to a pound, so if you lose 2 pounds during exercise, you have lost 32 ounces.]
- To get your hourly sweat rate, add the number of ounces of fluid lost to the number of ounces of fluid consumed. Divide the sum by the number of hours you exercised
- Pre exercise weight = 190 pounds/ Post exercise weight = 187 pounds
- Difference = 3 pounds [48 ounces]
- Amount of fluid consumed during exercise = 20 ounces
- Number of hours of practice = 2
48 + 20 = 68 ÷ 2 = 34 ounces of fluid required per hour
• Alternate between sports drink and water
15 minutes after
Replace sweat losses by drinking 24 ounces for every pound lost during practice. If you’re a salty sweater, consume a sports drinks and salty foods instead of sweet items. Try:
- A high carbohydrate sports bar with 300 to 400 calories
- A few pieces of jerky and a handful of pretzels
- A peanut butter sandwich
- 2 large handfuls of trail mix
Sample daily menu
- 2 eggs
- 2 slices whole-grain toast with butter or margarine
- 1 slice ham
- 12 oz low-fat milk or 8 oz yogurt
- 8 oz juice
- 12 oz water
- Sandwich on a hoagie roll
- 5 slices lean meat [e.g., turkey, ham, lean roast beef or a packet of tuna]
- 1 slice cheese
- 1 piece fruit
- Crackers, pretzels or baked chips [2 handfuls]
- A granola bar or a low-fat muffin
- 12 oz water and 12 oz milk, juice or water
- 8 to 10 oz lean meat, poultry or fish
- 2C pasta, rice or potatoes, with some fat added
- 2C vegetables (cooked or in a salad) with some fat added
- 1C light ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, sorbet or pudding
- 12 oz milk or juice
- Sandwich made with whole-grain roll or bread, 4 slices turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles
- 20 oz water