Just as is the case with most other sporting activities, good nutrition is a fairly sophisticated aspect that has an impact on lots of things related to the game. A balanced diet simply will not cut it – while this will work for people who are not athletes, NFL players need to switch up the formula quite a bit to make them better at the game of football. And, as you will come to see as you keep reading, it is where both quantity and quality come together.
Needless to say, football is a game that requires immense strength where players are not only meant to quickly recover from heavy hits but also amass short bursts of power when necessary. All these things have a huge impact on how the games turn out and, by extension, their team’s worth when it comes to Las Vegas odds and lines where the sports betting stakes are high and player performance makes all the difference. Diets can easily make or break an athlete’s performance which will, in turn, affect the performance of the team. That said, it is very easy to see why professional NFL players take good food very seriously – it is not all about training.
So, what makes up the diet of an NFL athlete?
Lots of Carbs and Vitamins
Carbohydrates are known for their energy value which makes them a vital component of an NFL player’s diet. Generally speaking, these athletes will require lots of energy to enhance their performance not just during games but also as they train and workout. High-calorie and high-carb foods such as whole grain, potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, dairy, legumes, some fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are usually the go-to for these kinds of needs.
In addition to the high-cab foods mentioned above, NFL players also often have to supplement with carbohydrates in the form of gels and sports or energy drinks. Refined carbohydrates like cookies, sodas, high sugar cereals, white bread, and pies are not included in the list of accepted carbohydrates for NFL players.
As you might have already guessed, the foods that are listed here as sources of carbohydrates also double as essential sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Given the nature of the game, these nutrients come in handy in reducing inflammation and boosting recovery from tears or injuries. They also assist in boosting a player’s immune system.
Just the Right Amount of Proteins
Proteins are all about building and repairing the muscles which is very important for every NFL player. As such, high-quality proteins should be eaten by the players both before and after any training session or even the actual games.
It is worth noting that even though proteins play a huge role in building the muscles of players, high consumption does not necessarily translate to better performance. There are even scientific studies that have proven that the use of extra protein especially through such things as powders and shakes may just end up displacing other nutrients in the body.
The trick is to keep the levels just right which can be achieved by a well-planned diet of real foods including protein-rich ones such as skinless turkey or chicken, beans, fish, lean red meats, and beans. Dairy and meat are also great options especially because of their high concentration of branched-chain amino acids.
With the good kind of fat in moderate amounts, players can boost their performance immensely. The high-calorie content means that just a little of it is required to maintain the necessary functions required of an NFL player. As such, just a couple of servings of fats in meals will do wonders. Some of the best sources of fats include nuts, seeds, meat, dairy, and fatty fish.
These aforementioned sources of fats contain either monosaturated fats or Omega-3 fatty acids and are highly recommended. Fats from dairy, fried foods, pork, chicken and margarine, or any other food with partially hydrogenated oil must be limited.
Fluids and More Fluids
Staying hydrated is another thing that athletes have to take very seriously. Having enough fluids in the body not only makes it easier for the vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to do their work but also ensures that they can easily expel the waste generated as they burn calories during games, workouts, or training sessions.
NFL players often use added electrolytes that are present in sports drinks or foods like pretzels. These electrolytes are especially great for people who sweat a lot but they are generally recommended for any player participating in an activity that takes over an hour.
Are Snacks and Supplements Okay?
Yes, they are. Snacking is a very popular habit among NFL players – most of them try to snack on some real food about twice or thrice every single day. This helps to keep them energetic and satisfied between meals.
Supplements, on the other hand, are a whole different ball game. A proper diet will provide all of the nutritional needs of the NFL players but in some cases, approved supplements may come in handy. The keyword here is “approved”.
Consistency Is Key
Being consistent when it comes to picking high-quality foods and sticking to a strict diet is one of the things that affect a player’s performance. Naturally, this also has an impact on the overall performance of the team. Fortunately for NFL players, their respective teams are usually so serious about diets that they have hired professional nutrition experts.
These experts help the players to regulate their diets based on the amounts and frequencies required. Their expertise in making the appropriate decisions as there are often other very important factors that come into play. For instance, diets can be different based on the time of the year or the NFL season both of which may have different performance goals for players.
Moreover, the position of the player and their specific goals also play a huge role in the way their diets are planned. Talent always comes first but given the very competitive nature of the sport, a dietary composition that is not optimal may result in some undesired outcomes.