Eating the right food, particularly pre- and post-match, can help optimise your fitness and reduce recovery times. This is particularly helpful towards the end of the season, when you might have niggling injuries.
If you get pre-match nerves, a liquid meal provides valuable nutrients and is more quickly and easily digested than solids.
For breakfast, porridge with milk and brightly coloured fruit provides slow-release energy. Alternatively, have muesli with fresh fruit and plain bio yoghurt, followed by two pieces of wholegrain toast with a scrape of butter and peanut butter, fruit spread or Marmite.
Then a couple of hours before the game mix 25g porridge oats, 500ml semi- or skimmed milk, half a banana, a dessertspoon of ground almonds and a teaspoon of honey into a blender. Some people like to add a scoop of protein powder, but if you’re under 18, I don’t recommend it.
For those who can stomach a good breakfast, have beans, grilled tomatoes, eggs – two poached or an omelette with four egg whites – followed by muesli (above).
If you like brunch, and providing you have three hours to digest it before playing, have protein, such as chicken breast cooked in a tomato sauce with rice, pasta or new potatoes (for slow-release energy). Don’t eat lots of fibrous vegetables before playing, keep these for the post-match meal.
Post-match, over a few hours, drink 500ml of water for each ½kg lost. A recovery drink, such as a protein shake (unless under 18), half an hour after the game will start the process of repairing muscles.
Two hours later, a good meal is a beef or lamb casserole with potatoes/rice to provide iron and protein to help repair muscles, while the carbohydrates replace lost energy stores.
Coloured vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms provide antioxidants so be sure to eat plenty.
A pudding could be a fruit crumble with ground nuts and seeds mixed in with the flour topping. A dollop of ice cream or low-fat yoghurt will help replenish glycogen stores.