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The Nutrition Kicks of Cup Contenders
All athletes need good nutrition to perform at their peak, but soccer players especially need their health food kicks to compete. The current international soccer tournament has been showcasing some of the fittest athletes in the world and it’s hard not to wonder how they do it. For starters, a soccer star’s sports performance is dependent on an energy-induced, balanced diet.
Soccer is a high-intensity sport that requires much training - both physical and nutritional. In order to keep up throughout a 90 minute match, a player must have abundant energy, strength and stamina, which requires eating right and hydrating before a match and beyond. FIFA’s F-MARC Nutrition Guide for Football emphasizes how “diet affects [sports] performance, and the foods that [players] choose in training and competition will affect how well [they] train and play.” That is why each team gunning for the cup this summer brought along in-house professional dietitians and nutritionists to Brazil, making sure they eat a healthy diet planned around the tropical climate and availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in the area.
But not every player enjoys the same eats nor gets nutrition the same way. Although soccer players follow a similar diet plan, every country has its own unique spin on the health food repertoire necessary to win the cup. Check out what entails a hat-trick worthy diet according to a few cup contenders.
Energy, most commonly produced from carbohydrates, is crucial for soccer players. That is why carbohydrates are said to account for nearly 70% of a soccer player’s diet. FIFA explains, “Carbohydrate supplies the muscles and brain with the fuels they need to meet the stress of training and competition.” Fox News says the Italians are particular about their carbs. Italy’s team nutritionist, Elisabetta Orsi, explains how the team fuels up for matches, “Pasta is our preferred fuel, and before matches we play with the tricolore: pasta (white), tomato (red) and extra virgin olive oil (green).”
Team USA made sure to pack the essentials to ensure a great tournament showing: oatmeal, Cheerios, peanut butter and A1 Steak Sauce to be exact. But aside from these American favorites, this team also loves their veggies, especially the Coach. Fox News says “Coach Jürgen Klinsmann loves a diet of fresh, organic vegetables.” Colors are key for Coach Klinsmann, as he requests that each team meal contains at least two cooked vegetables featuring two different colors. Vitamin A, C, E, B6 and B12 are extremely important for health and performance, which can be obtained from a diet based in fruits and vegetables. It has been reported that avocados are among the veggie favorites for this American group of soccer studs.
As for England, reports say ketchup has once again been permitted to the team menu by Coach Hodgson, as it was previously banned. The team’s star striker, Wayne Rooney, eats Coco Pops cereal and a banana as a part of his pre-match nutrition ritual. Cereal and protein bars are also favorite team snacks that help the players last 90 minutes. FIFA would applauded these players’ dedication to protein as it plays a key role in the adaptations that take place in response to training, explained the F-MARC Nutrition Guide for Football. “Amino acids from proteins form building blocks for the manufacture of new tissue, including muscle, and the repair of old or damaged tissue,” which comes in handy in physical, aggressive soccer games.
Although only 3 out of the 32 teams competing this month are highlighted above, each team making an appearance in the big tournament has nutritional secrets to success. The Mexican team traveled to Brazil with spices galore and the Argentinians indulge in healthy, green salads! Soccer match play places heavy stress on the body, but healthy food choices can reduce the risk of harm on the soccer field. No matter the team origin or the players’ taste buds, close attention to a balanced diet can make a vital difference between a win and a loss.
What foods help you gear up for a big match on the soccer field?
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