“You are what you eat.” - Ever heard that phrase?
Well if you are someone who wants to do something athletic with your life, career, hobbies, etc - there’s absolutely no getting around the fact that what you eat 100%, undeniably matters.
Yes, even if you are young, spry and in the prime of your life. You can’t get away with feeding your body bad fuel. Not for long anyway. Not if you want to be on top of your game and stand a chance of making it to the big leagues.
It’s a common misconception that goalkeepers don’t need to be as fit or athletic as those players running around on the field. That’s simply not true - sure, as goalies, we don’t run around as much. But we require a much different type of energy - concentration.
See, as goalkeepers, we need to be constantly aware of what is happening on the pitch at all times. We literally cannot take our eyes off the ball. If you’re not feeding yourself properly, you’ll soon find yourself losing concentration - maybe because that Big Mac you ate before the game is making you feel sluggish or simply because you didn’t have time to eat properly and now you’re starting to feel hunger creep in. What’s that? Your team just gave away a penalty in the last 10 minutes of the game? Oh no...
...Now you are in the spotlight and it’s crunch time, baby! The WHOLE team is depending on YOU to pull a miracle save out the bag. But you’re not feeling your best, so what happens?...
Your diet could make the difference between your team winning or losing that all important playoff match. It’s really that simple, and you should start taking this seriously. Like, right now.
Nutrition is a very complex topic and something that we could talk about for hours. Everyone will inevitably have their own dietary requirements to suit their body and you should consult a professional nutritionist to get a plan that suits you. But there are a few basic principles that I will break down here for you right now:
Eat more vegetables - Yes, your mom was right. You need to eat your vegetables. They contain very important vitamins and minerals that help your body maintain peak performance. Without them, your mind will start to wander, you won’t be able to concentrate and you won’t have the energy you need when you need it. If you don’t like the taste of veggies then get creative and make smoothies and juices with fruit to sweeten and hide the taste.
Choose healthy snacks - Snacking isn’t bad. In fact, it’s crucial to success. But when you start feeling hunger creep in, you might grab for something sweet, sugary and “Mmm oh so delicious!”. But what you really should be reaching for is a nice piece of fruit or something with slow-release energy. Something that isn’t going to spike your sugar levels and cause them to drop later on in the game causing you to lose energy when it counts. Stay away from soda, fried foods, and candy as you will pay the price later.
Cut out caffeine - When you need energy, nothing hits the spot quite like a nice cup of Joe or an ice-cold Big Gulp. But in reality, all you are doing is feeding your body’s dependence on chemicals. Cut out caffeine completely and eventually your body will be able to maintain its own natural levels of energy without the need for chemicals. Caffeine is also in a lot of soda too, so just cut that out and just start drinking more water. Staying hydrated is super important for maintaining concentration. Cutting out the caffeine also works wonders on your sleep, which is another important factor for staying alert during the day.
Eat higher quality carbohydrates - Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. They are absolutely crucial if you want to stay alert and have the energy you need for match day. But don’t choose fast-burning, highly processed carbs that will burn through your body and leave you feeling wiped out and hungry. Avoid most ‘white’ sources of carbohydrates such as White bread, white pasta, white rice, etc as these are usually highly processed and not good for the body. Stick to wholegrain or wholemeal sources such as Whole Grain bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice. These are much better for you and will provide a slow-release of energy throughout the day.
It can be hard to make a big change in your diet so the best way is to start slow and swap out a few things here and there. You will start seeing the benefits and hopefully, this will inspire you to make more and better choices. This is a process but it’s an important one if you want to become a top-level athlete. Eventually, your taste buds will align with the new way of living and you will appreciate a salad just as much as you did that bacon double cheeseburger.
Let me put it this way - what do you think the professionals eat?