Think of all the intricacies the body must go through when a player receives a ball, controls it, turns, sees and avoids a tackle and so on. In a few seconds, hundreds of muscle contractions have occurred, through thousands of chemical reactions taking place.
Energy is expended, and calories are burned. To do all that the body needs three things-air, water, and food. The amount of water consumed must be adequate and the food eaten must be of high quality to perform with peak performance.
Very few players drink enough water. Water helps regulate the body’s temperature, affects blood volume, aids in the body’s chemical reactions, and carries off waste.
To depend on the body’s thirst mechanism is wrong, since it lags way behind the body’s need for water. Players should learn to force 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.
We eat food for energy. The body’s preferred source of energy is carbohydrates. Fat and protein can also be converted into energy, but the conversions are slow and inefficient. For good performance an athlete should eat a great variety of foods but give preference to pastas, whole-grain breads, potatoes (not French fried), cereals, fruit, vegetables, and beans. All are high in carbohydrates.
An athlete should attempt to consume a diet that gets 25 percent of its calories from fat, 15 percent from protein, and 60 percent from carbohydrates. A high-performance diet may even cut the fat to 20 percent (making sure of drinking a lot of water).
It is difficult for us to control our player’s diets. All we can do is share the information with our players and their parents. We asked our players not to eat foods high in fat content on match day. It takes much energy to digest the fat. We asked our players not to eat anything at least two hours before and ideally four hours before a match. Playing with food in their stomach causes energy loss. Lastly, is the consumption of sugar during the last hours before a match. Sugar creates a momentary energy burst, but it is of very short duration and is followed by an energy loss that requires a long recovery time (45 minutes). It is suggested that oranges (usually used a half time), not be used if two games are to be played, such as in a tournament. We also suggest water up to game time, during the game and after the game. Sports drinks should be consumed only after the game.
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