A bit of lunchtime surfing and I came across this from Fulham FC’s nutrionist Stephen Hines.

Nutrition is very important. The average Premier League player covers 10-12k in one 90 minute match, so just as you wouldn’t expect to travel very far in a car with no petrol, the fuelling of the Fulham stars is a serious matter too…

A pre-match meal should contain low GL carbohydrates for a controlled but short-term energy boost, proteins that improve cognition, motivation and that balance neurotransmitters and essential fats that control inflammation. It should also aim to eliminate anything that will cause stress to the body. Ideally, this would be predominantly gluten free foods, such as rice (not pasta or pizza), things like fish, lean meats or eggs and plenty or fruit and vegetables, such as blueberries, raspberries, carrots and broccoli. These foods provide a host of antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals generated during the game and a host of vitamins and minerals that are essential to drive the metabolic reactions that convert food to energy.

I would suggest that players should not be allowed to eat what they like and should be provided a menu that covers all the basics described above and that provides them with the best chance to perform well and recover well after the game.

Stephen’s top tips

So, you play a bit yourself and want to gain an edge over those mouthy Sunday league full-backs? Then read on…

Keep hydrated:

Get into the habit of taking on plenty of liquid throughout the week, but that’s not an excuse to go to the pub or a justification for that morning latte.

Drink lots of water instead of tea, coffee or beer. Try and replace those break-time cups of tea with water, particularly in the two days before a game. On the morning of a game, drink as much water as you can tolerate. You should be peeing freely and the urine should be colourless.

Immediately after the game, drink some Lucozade Hydro – or even water with a tiny pinch of salt – to replace the nutrients lost through sweating. Then maybe some milk. Our boys have shakes which contain special protein and carbohydrates, but a cheap, easy substitute would be a standard milkshake.

Food for thought:

Consuming the right pre and post-match meals isn’t just for professionals. Eating the right nutrients can make a significant difference to performance and energy at any level of competition.

In the two to three hours before a game try to eat some fish with wholegrain rice and vegetables to give you some energy. Then try and eat something as soon as you can after exercising. I suggest always trying to have lots of fruit, nuts and seeds as snacks around you at training and game times.”

Sugar is not so sweet:

Chomping down a Mars bar might seem like a good idea to give you lots of energy from sugar, but be warned.

Things that are really high in sugar will upset your blood sugar and disrupt your hormones. The brain runs on glucose, so you want some blood sugar, but you don’t want it spiking really high and then really low because you’ll have less glucose for your brain, which will mean your reaction times fall right down.

Go nuts:

Fancy a quick snack? Then reach for some nuts.

They are a super food and they’re healthy. People always assume they’re high in fat, which they are; but they are healthy fats (what we call essential fats) that you don’t make in your body so you have to get them in your diet, such as the monounsaturated fats Omega 3 and Omega 6. They’re very good for your brain, your nervous system, your eyes and they make hormones. They’re extremely useful.

Nuts are also full of good protein and carbohydrate. They’re high in zinc, magnesium, and B Vitamins too and those are the kinds of vitamins you need to turn your food into energy.

Now, did you get all that?