Football players burn calories during practice--as much as a thousand calories for every half hour of play and as much as 10,000 during summer workouts. That is a lot of energy that a player needs to stock up on before going out to practice. However, many football players rarely think about the best foods to eat--only about the large amounts of food to eat. That is the wrong way of thinking.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap in the dieting world in the last few years, but they are essential for athletes. These will provide the energy to handle the short bursts of activity needed to survive a practice. Think about whole-grain breads and pastas in addition to high-protein foods such as eggs and lean meat. Avoid fried foods. If this is a morning practice, consider eggs, whole-wheat toast or bagel and some fruit. In the afternoon, think about baked chicken, nonbuttered whole grain rolls and noodles. When eating carbs, avoid white bread and other items that act like sugar in the digestive system. Between practices, munch on trail mix or whole-grain crackers.
Make Key Substitutions
If the team is going out to eat before practice, think about ways to make the food intake better. Instead of eating a plate of fries, ask for a baked potato or, even better, sweet potato fries. Eat the frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Go with the chicken sandwich over the hamburger. Eat slices of turkey instead of ham. This way you get healthy carbs and proteins whose energy will stick with you on the football field.
This may be the toughest thing to figure out. Players need to regain calories to play better, but they don't want to feel sluggish from eating too much (or cramp up). Look for lighter foods to fill up on such as fruits and vegetables as opposed to potato chips and cookies. Most athletic trainers recommend players to eat until they feel sated, which is a way to make sure that large or small players get proper meals. Remember, its fine to eat, just don't gorge on the bad stuff.