Eating healthy food and maintaining a proper diet are essential requirements to help young football players strengthen their muscles, and improve brain and physical development.
It is important to remember that eating more nutritious and dense foods will keep you feeling full all day and provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. The food and drink you put in your body are very important and has a significant impact on your physical performance during football training and matches.
The human body needs to have enough carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water to help it keep functioning in perfect condition.
Here are a few tips to help you understand how eating a healthy, balanced diet will benefit your football performance.
Healthy Eating Tip #1: Get Lots of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates (sometimes referred to as ‘carbs’) are a great sources of energy, vitamins and minerals. Health and fitness experts agree that it’s important to eat a highly level of carbs each day to ensure your body has all the fuel it needs to keep you active. Carbohydrates play a lot of roles in all living beings.
So what type of carbohydrates should one eat to achieve the required amount for the body to function at its best.
There are two types of carbohydrates: ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ carbohydrates.
Simple carbohydrates can be found in fruits, and are released and absorbed into your body quickly. So, in order to get your daily dose of simple carbs, make sure you eat enough fruit each day and avoid eating junk food and sweets.
- Complex carbohydrates can be found in foods like brown rice and yams, and they are released and absorbed into your body slowly, over a period of time. As a footballer you will need a high level of complex carbohydrates and since it takes longer for these types of carbs to be processed in the body, it provides energy for your body for longer. The suggested percentage daily intake is about 55%.
Types of carbohydrate foods: Potatoes, Rice, Pasta, cassava, yam, porridge oats, maize, root vegetables.
Healthy Eating Tip #2: Eat the Right Kind of Fats
There are fats that are good for your body and fats that are bad for your body. It is a fact that ‘healthy’ fats are essential for all your body’s functions. They are another source of energy, provide a protective cushion for other organs of the body, and transport vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K through the body to be absorbed.
There are ‘bad’ and ‘good’ fats, so it is important to know the difference so that you only eat the type of fat that really matters.
For the purpose of this article, we shall stick with the good fats – also known as ‘unsaturated fats’ – which are divided into ‘monounsaturated’ and ‘polyunsaturated’ fats.
- Monounsaturated Fat – this type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Foods rich in this type of fat improve the levels of blood cholesterol, which can decrease the risk of heart disease, help maintain insulin and blood sugar levels.
- Polyunsaturated Fat – this type of fat is found in plant-based foods and oils and have the same benefits as monounsaturated fats. A common type of this fat is called Omega-3, which contains fatty acids that help to protect your heart, decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and protect against irregular heartbeats.
Types of Fatty Foods: Olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, avocados, olives, nuts, soybean oil, corn oil, sesame, walnuts, oily fish such as Mackerel.
Healthy Eating Tip #3: Balance Your Proteins
Proteins make up some of the most important molecules in our body cells, tissues and organs. They help in the development of muscles and aid the body’s recovery and repair process after periods of exercise or activity. The structure of a protein determines its function and proteins consists of 20 amino acids which our bodies cannot produce hence we get them from our diet. Protein are found in many of the foods we eat every day.
There are two types of proteins: ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’.
- A ‘complete’ protein provides all the essential amino acids the body needs and can be sourced from meat, poultry, fish, cheese, eggs, milk and beans.
- An ‘incomplete’ protein is one that is low in essential amino acids but by combining two or more incomplete proteins required for the body, these will create a complete protein. A typical example of complete protein will be a meal of Rice & Beans or Beans & Corn. Source of incomplete proteins can be from beans, peas, corn. Nuts or grains.
As a young footballer, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet full of carbohydrate, fat, protein including vitamins & minerals, will enable you to enjoy good health and play at maximum performance now and in the future.
So over to you…how do you think a young footballer can look after their body and health? Please share your views in the comment box below.