American Football is all about strength, speed and stamina. You burn a lot of energy running and need a lot of protein for strength and muscle building. You need to eat lots of complex carbs for energy throughout the day, higher amounts of protein to build and repair muscles and some healthy fats for more energy.
1. Eat four to five meals a day and add snacks in between. Keep fats mostly to the main meals as they take longer to digest.
2. Have a snack before your training and if it goes on for more than an hour, have a small snack in the middle of it. Both of these should be mostly carbs for energy – fresh or dried fruit, fruit and nut snack bar or energy balls, oat biscuits or rice cakes with nut butter and jam.
3. Hydration is crucial. Water is best for training sessions up to an hour, but for long or extra intense training, an isotonic drink might be better.
4. Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – they help to prevent damage, reduce inflammation and speed up recovery. If you’re not a big fan, blend them into smoothies.
5. Increased protein intake is a must. You can add protein shakes to your routine but it’s not essential, wholefoods provide plenty of protein – beans, lentils, chickpeas, soya, nuts, seeds, nut butters and wholegrains. If you do use protein powders, be careful not to overdo it. Doses of 20-40 grams are the most effective, more than that doesn’t help to improve your performance.
Sample Meal Plan: Strength Athlete, no doubt!
Inspiration: John Rush, Kelly Colobella, Marc Olivier Brouillette, Griff Whalen, Andre Patton, Derrick Morgan, DaQuan Jones, Wesley Woodyard and several other Tennessee Titans, Cam Newton, David Carter, Theo Riddick
Griff Whalen, professional American football player, on diet and nutrition: “I think a whole food plant-based diet is the absolute best thing an athlete can eat. It has helped me so much. I’ve heard from some people on social media saying their coaches or parents tell them they can’t eat vegan if they want to be a serious athlete, and that kills me because what they’re telling them is actually hindering the athlete’s growth, not helping it.”