Training for football players includes running, learning plays, lifting, and NUTRITION! Quarterback, linebacker, tight end, tackle, whatever your position, you need to fuel adequately for a competitive edge and achieve your optimal performance. SPEED, STRENGTH, STAMINA, and RECOVERY are all impacted directly from your nutrition. It is important for each player to take responsibility for optimal body fueling. Nutrient requirements are based on individual athlete size and position, but below are nutrition tips for all football players.
Consume 3 meals and 2-3 snacks daily. Eat every ~3 hours if possible.
Never skip breakfast! Mornings are not the time to skimp on nourishment! Fuel your body early in the day and often to arrive at practice well fueled and ready for a tough training session.
Divide your plate into 1/3: One part filled with protein, second with fruits/vegetables, and the last with complex grains.
Have a hydration plan! You need to show up to trainings well hydrated and take breaks to rehydrate. Early and often is key! Gulp, don’t sip. Swallow, don’t spit. Drink, don’t pour over your head. General guideline; drink 20 ounces of water one hour prior to training with a small amount of carbohydrate (handful of pretzels or granola bar). Football players are at high risk for dehydration due to excessive sweating underneath all those pads and layers! Determine how much fluid you have lost during your training session. Each pound of body weight lost requires 24 ounces of fluid and sodium (or salt) for repletion. This can be obtained via a sport drink or water with food containing sodium.
Struggling to maintain weight and gain muscle? You need to have a calorie surpluss in order to gain weight and muscle mass. Choose high quality, caloric dense foods with meals and snacks. Lots of energy packed into small bites! Start with your plate model as mentioned above and top it off with trail mix, guacamole, cheese, nuts and nut butters, granolas, hummus. Drink nutritious caloric beverages, such as 2% milk, chocolate milk, yogurt smoothies, homemade smoothies.
Is weight control a concern while maintaining muscle mass? Eat quality foods at each meal or snack. Increase your consumption of lean proteins with high fiber sides. Fill half your plate with protein and the other half with complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, and high fiber grains. Timing, composition, and nutrient density are the keys to gaining muscle mass.
For advice on customizing an eating plan to meet your nutrition goals, consult a RD who specializes in sports nutrition.