Optimal Diet And Nutrition for Football Players

What to Eat and What Not to Eat for Football Success

Football player drinking water
Chabruken/The Image Bank/Getty Images

A football player is intentional about weight workouts. A football athlete is diligent about off-season drills. A football player usually practices catching the football over and over again. But there is one area that many young footballers neglect, and that is the area of diet and nutrition. What is a good football diet? How much does diet affect football performance?

Following these simple steps will start you in the right direction.

Nutrition Plays a Key Part in Performance

Shane Freels, a professional fitness trainer and a former collegiate linebacker, who now lives his passion for helping people achieve their personal and athletic success, trains a number of NFL and NBA players. Freels says that a key component of a player's training regiment is an intentional diet. Up to 80 percent of what determines an athlete's performance is the quality of their nutrition.

What Not to Eat

A good football diet sometimes starts with not consuming certain things. The two biggies for young people are fast food and sodas. You cannot perform at your peak when you are eating food that is over-processed and made for mass production.

Sodas are some of the biggest performance inhibitors out there. The high level of sugar and carbonation forces your body to work harder, and takes energy from you, rather than providing the energy you need to perform. If you simply cut out these two items, you would be a lot better off nutritionally.

You also want to avoid as much processed or packaged food as you can. Examples of this are boxed or microwave dinners. The more processed the food, the less real nutritional value it has.

What To Eat Instead

A good football diet starts first thing in the morning. And many are guilty of not eating breakfast at all. This is a huge mistake for someone who wants to be a serious athlete. Whether you feel hungry or not, breakfast is a vital meal that sets your energy and metabolism for the rest of the day.

As often as possible, eat whole, unprocessed foods. Instead of a bowl of processed cereal for breakfast, eat steel cut oats with fresh blueberries. Instead of a piece of pizza from the snack bar at school, get freshly sliced meats from the deli at the grocery store and pack sandwiches. Eat those sandwiches on whole wheat bread instead of plain white bread. Pack an apple and some peanut butter to grab some extra calories during the afternoon. Start off small to implement these changes and make them a regular part of your routine. These new changes can go a long way to boost your performance.

Drink Lots of Fluids

You have probably heard this over and over, but you really cannot get enough water and electrolytes. Most young people do not stay hydrated. When you are training intensely, your body depends on good hydration to successfully perform and recover. Find a good electrolyte replacement drink to help with this recovery. Keep a water bottle with you during the day, so you are keeping yourself hydrated all day. If you wait until you are thirsty, it is too late.

Eat On Purpose

A good football diet involves a change in your mindset and developing good habits. If you want to perform at your peak, you have to be intentional about what you eat. Do not let your diet be something that happens to you, make your diet work for you.

Eating, like exercise, needs to be done on purpose if you want to be serious about your performance on the football field.