Football players, manage your diet during the winter

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Winter is coming! The thermometer may be showing temperatures that can be discouraging, but should you stop your favourite activity because of the cold? No, your body can adapt to the cold.

Football players don't need extra fat in the winter so long as they wear the right clothing, eat enough and stay active.

10 best practices for having a kick around even in cold weather:

1 – Eat your meals at regular times.

A regular eating cycle allows our bodies to have benchmarks to regulate food intake so that it can release energy at a regular rhythm.

2 – Take your time when eating

Eating too quickly can lead to poor digestion and abdominal pain. A meal should last at least 20 minutes, this is the time it takes for us to feel that we have eaten enough. Our brain needs time to receive the signals from the stomach that tells it we are eating.

3 – Have breakfast

Breakfast sets you up for the rest of the day. There are still too many of you skipping it. A good training session or match and recovery from it will be all the more affected if you have not had breakfast. Carbohydrates (bread, cereal, etc.) need to be eaten as a priority to ensure adequate energy intake.

A healthy, balanced breakfast:

  • Cereals: Bread, breakfast cereal, crispbread, etc.
  • A hot drink
  • Fruit or fruit juice
  • A dairy product.

4 – Eat a balanced diet

A balanced diet means eating everything, but in the right quantities. This lets us cover our needs in terms of nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

A balanced diet:

  • Starchy foods: with every meal,
  • Fruits and vegetables: at least 5 servings a day
  • Meat, fish, eggs: 1 to 2 servings a day
  • Dairy products: 3 servings a day
  • Fat: in limited quantities
  • Sugary foods: in limited quantities
  • Water: unlimited

5 – Stay hydrated

It is important to drink at least 1.5 litres of water every day to cover your body's needs. These needs are greater for those who do sport, who must drink before, during and after exercise. Good hydration helps maintain performance and promotes speedy recovery.

Water is the only essential drink. However, for training sessions lasting more than 1 hour and for matches, opt for an isotonic drink.

6 – Stock up before a training session

When a training session is planned long after a meal, don't forget to have a little snack (cereal bars, fruit bars, etc. 30 minutes to 1 hour beforehand to avoid a drop in energy, felt by a drop in performance and fatigue.

7 – Don't overlook recovery

A phase that is too often forgotten, whereas recovery helps you optimise performance and prepare for the next session. The purpose of recovery is to replenish energy and water reserves and help the muscle to repair itself. It must include a source of water, carbohydrates and protein and be consumed ideally within 30 minutes of the training session or match.

8 – Beware of alcohol!

Alcohol is not recommended for people who do sport because it reduces physical capabilities and increases the toxins that the body must eliminate. Alcohol also accelerates dehydration and impairs your ability to regulate perspiration.

During the post-match celebrations, pour yourself an energy drink with a protein bar on the side, rather than the traditional pint of beer.

9 – Choose the right equipment

On the pitch, the first to suffer from the cold are your extremities. Don't forget to wear appropriate clothing to protect you from winter temperatures.

10 – Warm up

It is important to take the time to warm up in cold weather. Your body needs to be warm in order to work properly. Indeed, ligaments, tendons and muscles take longer to relax and blood doesn't circulate as well in cold weather. 

Marie Fauchille
Dietician | Nutritionist
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