Fuelling the football world cup

 Fuelling the Football World Cup

By Professor Graeme Close
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With the football world cup now upon us it seems an ideal time to look at how the footballers will be fuelling their games. Nutrition in football is becoming increasingly more valued, so much so, that the England football team have not only taken a nutritionist to Russia with them but also their own chef to prepare sport nutrition specific meals. So, what will the Chef be preparing for the lads during the tournament?
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Research tells us that Premier League football players will eat between 3-6g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight per day (Anderson et al., 2017a, Anderson et al., 2017b). The lower values are typically on the days away from games with this ramping up towards game day. However, during a football world cup I would imagine the players would be consuming the higher values most days as recovery will be so important. To achieve 6g per kg body mass of carbohydrate requires careful planning and structured eating and I imagine this is a key reason the England team have travelled with their own chef.
 
A typical football player will weigh approximately 80kg therefore they will be aiming to consume 480g of carbohydrate per day. 300g of this carbohydrate will be eaten during the 3 main meals with the additional 180g coming from snacks spread throughout the day. Many professional clubs use Get Buzzing bars given their mix of low GI carbohydrate with protein which is crucial for recovery. A typical day may look like:
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Breakfast – Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toast followed by fresh fruit and yoghurt

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Mid morning snack – Get Buzzing Date and Seed Flapjack plus a banana
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Lunch – Roast chicken piri piri style with large portion of rice and vegetables. Glass of fresh fruit juice
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Mid afternoon snack – Chocolate Coconut Get Buzzing bar
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Dinner – Orange glazed salmon with potato wedges and seasonal vegetables followed by a rhubarb and berry crumble with home-made custard.
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Evening Snack – Milk based fruit smoothie
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As you will see this is a lot of carbohydrate but it is for a specific purpose. During a typical game a player will cover over 12km with multiple repeated sprints and by the end of the game muscle carbohydrate stores will be almost empty. It is impossible to perform high intensity sprints, typically seen in elite football, without adequate muscle carbohydrate stores and therefore it is possible that games can be won or lost in the dining hall before a player even steps a foot onto the playing field. Looks like it was a smart move for the England team to take their own nutritionist and chef with them – lets wait and see.
 
ANDERSON, L., NAUGHTON, R. J., CLOSE, G. L., DI MICHELE, R., MORGANS, R., DRUST, B. & MORTON, J. P. 2017a. Daily Distribution of Macronutrient Intakes of Professional Soccer Players From the English Premier League. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 27, 491-498.
ANDERSON, L., ORME, P., NAUGHTON, R. J., CLOSE, G. L., MILSOM, J., RYDINGS, D., O'BOYLE, A., DI MICHELE, R., LOUIS, J., HAMBLY, C., SPEAKMAN, J. R., MORGANS, R., DRUST, B. & MORTON, J. P. 2017b. Energy Intake and Expenditure of Professional Soccer Players of the English Premier League: Evidence of Carbohydrate Periodization. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 27, 228-238.

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