Top Five Snacks For Football
When you’ve got to eat, you’ve got to eat. Whether you’re on the road to an away game or the final whistle has just gone at home, we have just the trick for when the hunger pangs hit. Speaking to our resident sports scientist Chris Barnes to get the lowdown on the healthiest snacks the professionals are eating, we’ve compiled them into a simple list just for you.
The general rule of thumb for footballers, according to Chris, is to avoid eating two hours before kick-off and refuelling as soon as possible after a game. Pursuing some post-match protein or craving some carbohydrates? Our list means snacking has never been so easy.
Porridge or rice pudding
While you would usually associate such food with breakfast, porridge and rice pudding makes for a great pre-game snack for those early kick-off times in addition to post-game munchies. The simple carbohydrates found in such snacks are easily digested and provide quick energy as well as being packed full of fibre which facilitates a release into your bloodstream. Easy to fit into kitbag and with the advantage of being pre-prepared, both can be easily combined with additional snacks such as fruit and nuts which are encouraged below.
“If you know that sourcing an ideal post-match recovery meal will be difficult, you should ensure you have snacks available,” says Chris. “Flapjack, porridge or rice pudding portions are all great sources of carbohydrate and can be easily taken to a match.”
Fruit and nuts
Not exactly a secret in the world of health and fitness, but fruit and nuts are massively beneficial to performance. Whether it to be before a game for some quick energy in the form of digestible carbohydrates or the natural protein to repair muscles post-workout, combining these two together makes for both a tasty and efficient snack.
“A by-product of intense exercise is the production of free-radicals,” begins Chris. “These chemicals negatively impact on energy production and recovery processes. One method of countering these effects is to consume foods high in vitamins A, C and E after exercise such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Fruit and vegetables (particularly dark coloured ones) are a rich source of vitamins and minerals which help the body to generate energy for exercise and to recover quickly from exercise.”
Plain Greek yogurt
While Greece’s favourite philosopher, Aristotle, may have been talking about a different kind of adoration when he said ‘love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies’, we think it perfectly summarises our passion for this dairy delight. The whey and casein combination in Greek yogurt means you’re getting a mix of fast- and slow-digesting proteins, while it can be easily mixed with a great deal of things to ensure you’re in top condition for kick-off or recovering from a tough game.
“During periods of intense activity it is normal to feel hungry between meals,” says Chris. “To counter this hunger and ensure you are consuming healthy and appropriate foodstuffs try to eat fruit, nuts or yogurts rather than chocolate, crisps or cakes.”
By now, you may have noticed easily digestible carbohydrates are a common theme on this list. That said, it would be pretty criminal of us not to include rice cakes given the absence of fat, quick digestion and high amount of energy. Easily combined with other foods mentioned on this list (we love bananas on ours), rice cakes are the unsung heroes of football snacks both pre-game and post-match.
“If your most recent workout was relatively low volume and intensity, that means you don’t need to take on the same high levels of carbohydrate and protein,” says Chris. “A simple snack as soon as possible after finishing your workout such as cereal, rice cakes or a chicken sandwich should do the trick.”
Isotonic sports drink
Fairly controversial of us to include a beverage in a list of snacks, but there’s method to our madness. It’s important to replenish energy stores after a football match as soon as possible despite a suppression of hunger and there are few ways more effective than chugging back a drink full of carbohydrates, sodium and electrolytes.
“It’s important to replenish energy stores immediately after a football match,” says Chris. “Playing football often reduces your appetite so it’s not always easy or practical to immediately take on board a solid meal. This is why you should always take a sports drink to drink after the game.”
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