Pre season training is now under way for Premier League clubs and no doubt the coaches will have vigorous training sessions planned in for the players. But one aspect of footballers fitness regime that has become more prominent in the Premier League era is the diet of the players.
Twenty five years ago it was normality for players to have a diet filled with sugar and fat. When Arsene Wenger arrived at Arsenal in 1996 he brought with him a new approach to how players should be eating after seeing the benefits of a good diet during his time managing in Japan. Arsenal went on to win the league and FA Cup double in his second season and the importance of players living like athletes was evident for everyone to see.
This started a transformation in English football as the other managers followed Wengers winning approach. Today all top flight clubs will have dieticians and as pre-season tours get under way the players weight and body fat will be constantly measured and a diet will be made up to what best suits their needs.
But exactly what players are eating remains a mystery to us. The diet that Wenger brought with him from Japan was high in protein and low in fat as players ate fish and boiled rice. Things have changed more since then and to compete at the top level players must have the right diet. We wanted to find out more about what the players will be eating during pre-season and with the help of an interactive tool were able to do this.
What might come as a surprise to most people is the amount of calories that player are consuming. On average players will consume 3800 calories per day. This is an extra 800 compared to the average man. Despite the high calorie intake players often have a lean physique with low body fat. Whereas the average man doesn’t burn the majority of their calories, the demands in football mean that they need to consume the calories to give them energy.
As football has large pitches it requires players to do a lot of running. Midfielders can run up to 9.5 miles in a game. This will also involve a lot of sprinting, cutting and tackling. The high intense performance in football means that players can burn up to 3000 calories during a match.
Although players will eat more calories than the average man, the calories will come from a better source. The everyday man would get their energy from bacon sandwiches, pizza and chocolate. However the interactive shows that a footballers diet would be high in carbohydrates as they eat lots of pasta, cereal and bread. Then to provide extra energy they would snack on yoghurts and smoothies.
The timing of when players eat the food is also carefully planned. To ensure they are in ultimate condition on match day they will avoid having any large meals 3-4 hours before kick-off. Anything they do eat will be a small snack of a banana or porridge and eaten 1-2 hours before the start of the match.
The interactive piece also contains lots of information around the diet of athletes from a range of sports. You can compare the difference in diets of Rugby players to Footballers, and also see how players from English sports eat differently to their American counterparts. It’s an educational piece that will allow young sports players to discover what they should be eating to improve performance. Take a look at the diet for your chosen sport to see what you should eat.