Nutrition for sport: AFL
AFL places physiological demands on the body which means nutrition is a key factor for performance. The ideal body composition of players will vary and is dependent on the position they play. Midfielders need to have a good level of endurance and run anywhere between 12-15km per game, whereas defenders are required to be strong and powerful and predominantly run sprint distances.
A typical training diet for an AFL player consists of a combination of carbohydrates for fuel (wholegrain bread, pasta and rice). Protein for muscle repair and recovery (chicken, fish, tofu). Fruit and vegetables for immune boosting vitamins and minerals. Healthy fats for recovery and energy (nuts, seeds, fish and avocado).
Game day diet
The start time will dictate what and when you eat before a game. Junior level games usually start early to mid-morning whereas senior level games are played in the afternoon or evening. Game day is not the time to start to fuel your body, this should be done days in advance. Game day is the day for topping up existing energy stores and replenishing energy for the game ahead. The pre-game meal, including one of the following, should be eaten around 3-4hrs before the start time.
- Wrap or sandwich filled with chicken and salad
- Pasta with vegetable tomato-based sauce
- Rolled oats topped with berries and 2 slices of toast
A snack should then be eaten around 1-2 hours prior to the start of the game. Snacks should be rich in carbohydrates, low in fat and low in fibre. A pre-game snack might include one of the following:
- Banana with a handful of nuts e.g. raw almonds
- Musashi Pre-Workout Bar
- Fruit smoothie with a scoop of Musashi 100% Whey Protein Powder.
Eating and drinking during the game
Fluid requirements depends on the individual and tolerance to digestion during exercise. Quarter time and half time are good opportunities to re-fuel. Solid foods such as a banana or a Musashi Pre-Workout Bar are ideal for those wanting a solid snack. Whereas those who prefer not to eat solid foods during a game might like to try sports drinks such as Musashi Electrolytes (Released May 2020).
Players have the opportunity to sip on fluid during the game. Drinks containing caffeine are useful for players who suffer from early fatigue. Musashi Pre-Workout contains 250mg of caffeine per serve helping to support energy and performance. Caffeine is absorbed by the stomach and intestine and takes approximately 20-minutes to take effect. Caffeine helps to sustain exercise intensity, concentration and improves reaction time and tactical decision making.
Recovery starts as soon as you come off the ground. A snack consumed within 45-minutes of finishing such as Musashi Bulk Protein helps to kick start the recovery process, helping to repair damage caused to muscles during the game. A meal should then be eaten within 1-2 hours of the game finishing to help re-stock energy (carbohydrates) in preparation for your next training session. The post-recovery snack and a post-recovery meal are equally important and neither should be forgotten.
The table below shows an example of a professional AFL players diet on a game day.
|Timing of food||Food|
|Pre-meal||2-3hrs before training||Chicken & salad sandwich with a piece of fruit|
|Pre-snack||45min -1hr before training||Musashi Pre-Workout Bar|
|During||Sip fluid throughout||Musashi Electrolyte Hydration|
|Post-snack||Within 30min of finishing||Musashi Bulk Protein Shake|
|Post-meal||Within 1.5hrs of finishing||Lean mince & pasta with vegetables and tomato based sauce.
Hydration plays a large factor in performance. As little as 2% loss of body weight can impact performance and increase the risk of dehydration. Thirst alone is not a good indicator of dehydration. To stay in your hydration zone, it is important to sip fluids before, during and after training.
Drink 5-7ml per kg body weight e.g. 80kg individual: 80 x 5ml = 400ml.
During exercise hydration
The amount of fluid lost via sweat is completely individual, therefore there is no specific equation. To avoid dehydration sip fluids regularly during exercise and if you are a heavy sweater or prone to muscle cramps sip on Musashi Electrolytes (Released May 2020) to aid hydration.
Maximise sports performance by getting hydration right from the start. Replenish your fluid losses as soon as possible post-training with Musashi Electrolytes (Released May 2020).
By Gwen Gothard