Football -- or soccer in the United States -- is a sport that demands equal parts endurance, plyometric movement and strength. A footballer requires extra calories to fuel training sessions as well as competitive matches. According to the American Council on Exercise, a competitive athlete can require up to three times as many calories per day as a moderately active person. Losing a few pounds and eating healthier can improve your game and help you be a better footballer. In two weeks you can expect to lose anywhere from two to four pounds with careful planning and healthier food choices.
Two-Week Diet Guidelines
Since there is no official two-week diet plan for footballers, your choice of time-frame may be purely circumstantial or convenient. If you have 14 days before a big competition or want to get your team in better shape and have two weeks to do it, the first step is to plan out the diet from beginning to end. A few basic rules to implement in your diet plan include making sure that only the healthiest foods are consumed; that you eat based on activity levels; and to keep your meal times consistent.
Choose Healthy Foods
Each meal should come loaded with protein and complex carbohydrates. As a footballer you rely on carbohydrates to keep you fueled during the long two to three hour matches. Excellent choices for carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal and whole grains. Good choices for protein include fish, chicken, turkey and eggs. Protein is important for muscle building and strength. Building strong leg muscles will help you kick harder and farther. Get roughly 35 percent of your daily calories from protein; 10 to 15 percent from healthy fats; and 45 to 50 percent from carbohydrates. If you find you fatigue during your matches, try increasing your carbohydrate intake a few days prior to your match and after your practice sessions. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, low glycogen stores in muscles can cause weakness and muscle fatigue 2.
Eat Based on Activity Level
Your diet plan should replenish the calories you burn during training and daily metabolic processes. Actual caloric intake will be unique to your individual metabolism, age, gender and activity levels. For example, if you currently burn 1,000 calories per day from training and another 2,000 from normal metabolic processes, you should be consuming a minimum of 2,500 calories. Eating less than this will leave you tired during training and competition. It’s essential that your diet has enough calories to provide fuel to working muscles. Not eating enough as an athlete is usually worse than eating too much. You will lose weight but suffer from slight malnutrition, fatigue and muscle atrophy. A good rule for a footballer is to eat 500 calories more than your body needs to function normally. Adjust to your energy levels and weight loss progress.
Your two-week footballer diet should focus on keeping your meals consistent and spread as evenly as possible throughout the day. Only adjust calories as needed -- for example, increasing your carbohydrate intake before training. According to the American College of Sports Medicine when you provide your body with calories at specific times of the day, it begins to keep an internal record and will adjust based on this schedule. This can raise your metabolism and help you burn calories more efficiently. Sticking to these dietary guidelines for two weeks should be enough time to help improve your health, energy level and reduce your body fat percentage.
- “Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Manual”; American Council on Exercise; 2008
- “NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition”; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2011
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