Good Nutrition for a Great Game

Most of us know that carbohydrates are the main fuel source in the body. We have been told that for a quick boost of energy, it is imperative to consume carbo-rich foods like cereals, bread and snack foods.

The bad news is that carbohydrate rich food often lead to conditions of weight gain, inflammation and ill health. Carbohydrates should of course form part of your diet, but not the majority.

The good news is that there is a new way to produce energy, without the negative effects of carbohydrates. Protein is, in many respects, is the best fuel source for your body.

Proteins play an important role in tissue growth, repair and maintenance. Because protein is not stored in the body, it is not readily utilised as an energy source. However, if carbohydrate and fats are not available, your body may use proteins as a fuel to produce energy or glucose. This means that if you are not receiving sufficient carbohydrates through your diet, your body will use the proteins intended for muscle repair and growth as an energy source.

Your energy sources and the way you use them can be likened to a fire.

Protein acts as the logs in the fire. They burn slower than carbohydrates and double as body builders. They should be the main fuel source in the body.

The sticks in the fire are the complex carbohydrates. They burn a lot quicker than the logs, and a little bit slower than the kindling.
Simple sugars make up the kindling. They burn quickly, and provide little heat or energy for the fire. Simple sugars include honey, lollies and sugary foods.

When protein is used as the main fuel source, there is less fluctuation of blood sugar levels. More protein in the diet will help to avoid 3rd quarter slumps, the “ups and downs” during a match, and will ensure that optimal concentration is kept at school, work or during the game.

Protein, as a fuel source, burns the longest and the hardest, providing greater and more sustained energy over a longer period of time. When it is broken down, protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) for muscle tissue repair and recovery, hence all the protein powders, drinks and supplements on the market.

It is vital that everyone in your family eats well everyday, rather than just concentrating on footy days. Eat well, drink enough water, and consume enough protein daily for optimal nutrition, and you will find that you will feel 100% all the time.

Basic Points That You Need To Remember

  • Eat little and often. Eating small, protein rich and healthy meals will maintain your blood sugar levels, energy and concentration. It will also promote a healthy metabolism for optimal energy.
  • Boost your protein intake. As you have read, protein is the building block for healthy muscle tissue. A good supply of protein will also provide you with the amino acids required for growth and repair.
  • Drink enough water. If you are active, you need to drink 20ml of water per kilo of body weight – more if you are hot or you sweat. For example, a 45 kilogram child will need to drink a minimum of 900ml of water a day.
  • Avoid high fat foods. Foods like lollies, chocolate and chips provide little more than a sugar and sodium hit. Treats are ok on the rare occasion – find healthy, tasty foods that your family enjoy and use these instead.
  • Always include a variety of food. Aim to eat lots of meat, fruit and vegetables. Try to eat a colourful array of vegetables for all the nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that each colour offers.

Healthy Hints For A Great Game

Follow these survival hints for the easy preparation of healthy, nutritious meals.

  • Be organised ahead of time – cook the night before and plan for busy meal times.
  • Mix it up – Keep a supply of frozen vegetables in your freezer, as well as dried legumes in your pantry. These can be added to a variety of meals and recipes if you're running short on time and ingredients.
  • Stick to your list. Writing a shopping list will ensure that you have the necessary foods to prepare the meals as planned.
  • Use your freezer. Prepare extra quantities to be defrosted and heated at a later time.
  • Experiment with new meals and recipes. There are thousands of great tasting healthy recipes on the internet that use common pantry ingredients. Instead of sticking to the same routine, try a couple of new recipes every week.
  • Get the kids involved. Encourage your kids to help you prepare the meals. It is a great way to spend time with your kids, and teach them good healthy eating habits.