Preparing for footy finals in the coming weeks? Now, more than ever you need to be at the top of your game, physically and mentally. At Fairfield Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Centre, we can help you prepare your body with physiotherapy but you also need to make sure you’re providing yourself with the proper fuel to tackle an AFL final – a healthy pre-final diet. Here’s a quick run-down of what your footy finals diet should entail.
PLENTY OF FLUIDS
Dehydration can result in fatigue, inability to concentrate and issues with decision making so it’s essential that you drink adequate amounts of water and other fluids before, during and after both training and matches. Over-hydration can also be an issue as it can have a negative impact on your sleep. Your fluid requirements will vary depending on a variety of actors such as your body size, how much you run during each match, your sweat rate etc.
WHAT TO EAT BEFORE THE GAME
It’s essential to begin each match with the right fuel in the tank. Every player is different and other factors such as the match start time will affect your pre-match dietary requirements, but generally players should eat a pre-game meal around 3-4 hours before the match is due to start.
One of the key elements of a pre-game meal is carbohydrates. Your energy reserves can become severely depleted during the finals’ weeks as you’re training day after day, and this includes your carbohydrate stores. You’ll need enough carbohydrates to provide the energy required to perform at your best throughout the entire game.
An ideal pre-game meal consists of carbohydrates, a small amount of protein and some fluids for hydration. Make sure that the dish is low in fat and is accompanied with a fluid choice preferably water. It goes without saying that you need to avoid alcohol as a fluid choice. Alcohol can negatively impact performance from your ability to concentrate and make quick decisions on the field to exacerbating injuries (the list goes on).
Most players will find they have one or two favourite meals they like to eat on game day but a few pre-game meal ideas for some finals food inspiration include salad sandwiches or wraps on whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and vegetable sauce, rice cakes with low fat spread, non-dairy fruit smoothies with berries, fruit salad, porridge and berries mixed with water or almond milk or any large homemade salad with vinegar or nut dressing (not oil).
Most players also find they benefit from having an additional snack around 1-2 hours before the game. Pre-game snacks provide small amounts of carbohydrates and protein which can serve as valuable energy sources during the match.
Dieticians recommend that snacks should be light, low-fat, high in carbohydrates and easy to digest (therefore high in fibre where possible).
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK DURING THE GAME
You will need to supplement your energy levels throughout the match by drinking and/or eating small amounts of carbohydrates. This can be done during half time and quarter time. Sports drinks and energy gels are ideal for shorter breaks and during long breaks (such as half time) you may like to have a solid food-based snack such as a banana or energy bar. Keeping up your fluid intake is highly important, especially if you find yourself on the field for the majority of the game.