Kids football diets are often the topics of debate for busy parents asking themselves what stuff should we be feeding our children for football? Not only is it for nutritional purposes but also how do we get them off to good eating habits early in their lives.
Honing skills getting tactically clued up is part of development but so is developing healthy eating habits. If our children develop a sense of healthy eating early in their development years it can pay dividends for a future healthy lifestyle in and out of their sporting careers.
If we feed them with the wrong stuff then not only will their football suffer, so will our childrens physical development.So what foods should our budding Beckhams eat to aid their football development? With experts and government now saying that we should be moving more towards 7 portions of fruit and veg per day from their traditional 5-a-day recommendation, food and how we re-fuel is crucial to how we bring up our children and create the best of habits to last their lifetime.
So what is the right stuff? Perhaps we should take a look at the favourite foods of top professionals around the world for how we advise childrens football. Taking a leaf out of the finest athletes on the planet can’t be wrong when considering what we serve up to our children. Well let’s see …
"You should pay as much attention to your nutrition as you do to every other aspect of your game," says sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson. "It's no hardship to do what the elite athletes do." You might not compare favourably to Lionel Messi on the pitch, but matching him meal for meal is a far simpler feat...
Christain Ronaldo swears by lean protein and gets a lot form both chicken and seafood. That is where he gets his lean body, speed and upper body strength. Fish is Ronaldo’s favourite. Luis Lavrador, who is the Portuguese national teams head chef and dietician explains “Cristiano Ronaldo eats all sorts of dishes, but the one he likes the most is fish; swordfish and sea bass.” “It is a natural source of lean protein and helps to keep him trim and replenished, footballers need to repair muscle and providing the building blocks to keep their bodies in top condition. Yes Christian loves his fish!”
Two times winner of the European Golden Boot Diego Forlan, ex Manchester United and Athletico Madrid swears by Pineapple and eggs in the form of omelets. Eggs are a great source of protein and pineapple helps reduce inflammation which all footballers need to recover from injuries. The important part to eat is the wood core which has bromelain in abundance, a digestive enzyme that helps recovery. Footballers have many little niggles and mini injuries that the muscle tissue needs to repair itself the for next training session or a big game.
Carbohydrate is more of the right stuff – it is the fuel – the energy stores for world football stars to be able to run 10 to 12 miles in a big game, to sprint and recover and keep going with indomitable stamina the whole 90 minutes. It is the right stuff for kids football.
When training our football kids diets should be high in nutritious carbohydrate foods. When in pre-season or doing holiday camps then our football kids need to have a higher intake of carbohydrates. Food nutrition experts say that the recommended amount is 5-10 grams per kilo of body weight for each player.
Technically speaking carbohydrates replenish a footballers muscle glycogen stores. The most important times are after training and games which helps with recovery from each session. Playing a match can deplete a players glycogen to very low levels that need instant replacement. So to keep going at full pelt our football kids need to start a game with a full tank of carbohydrates on board.
Before a game take in carbohydrates both in your children’s regular diet through plenty of carbohydrate rich foods such rice, pasta, bread and cereals. Fruit and flavored low fat dairy products also have carbohydrates which can be used as top ups as part of pre-game diets.
Pre-game food intake should be high in carbohydrate but low in fat, low in protein, low in fibre so not too bulky, avoid bloating foods and are easy to digest and absorb into a players body.
Dr Stewart Laing, football nutrition expert, suggests banana as the ideal fruit to eat ahead of a match as “they have a high proportion of carbohydrate, which can be converted into energy.”
So what is the ideal food for pre-training or pre-game? The right stuff pre-game for our kids football? Well, you could can stock up our little ones energy banks with cereals with low fat milk, toast or bread with jam or honey. Pre-match sandwiches are good with banana, jam, or honey, even rice and pasta with tomato based sauce, muffins or baked potatoes, energy bars, fruit or orange juice are all the right stuff!
Don’t tell Roy Keane but the great Lionel Messi is actually partial to a prawn sandwich for his pre-game snack!
Our recommendation for our football kids is to provide them with a balanced diet with lots of protein, carbohydrate, dairy and fruit and veg. Just watch the pre-training snacks in easily absorbable carbohydrate and help our children re-fuel afterwards.
And what is wrong with a little treat every now and again?