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Christmas Food No-Nos for Footballers. Healthy Nutrition for Young Footballers PART 2

In our last issue, Kevin Taitt, Bsc. gave us advice on maintaining a balanced diet. Today, we wanted to put more focus on the things footballers should minimise or just avoid altogether to stay healthy. We’re bombarded in media with the notion that carbohydrates are a bad thing. Why is that? Carbohydrates are not bad in themselves but they are not to be overdone. The reason you sport a perpetual pot-belly is not to be blamed on carbs but on taking in more carbohydrates than your body requires for its level of activity. All unused carbohydrates are converted to glycogen and stored in the body as fat. If you want to have enough energy for your sport while maintaining a lean figure, find the right balance between activity and carbohydrate consumption. Balance is key. How do supplements factor into this balance? As has been repeated many times over, a balanced diet will provide all your nutritional requirements so most supplements are expensive and unnecessary for the average footballer. There are a ton of iron supplements out there, but it is recommended that you have your iron levels checked by a doctor before consuming them, because too much iron can be toxic. Taking high doses of vitamin A and E and beta-carotene supplements can cause cell damage instead of preventing it so it is advised you choose food first. Vitamin C doses as high as 2000 mg can cause diarrhoea. For the fully grown footballer, muscle will be built from training more than extra protein. Supplements are therefore not necessary. Too much protein can actually lead to dehydration and excess protein is also stored in the body as fat. Stick to meats, eggs, nuts, peanut butter, and tuna for the protein needed to build and maintain muscle. Supplements should ideally only be taken where there is a deficiency. It is advised that you consult a doctor before taking any. There are a lot of wife’s tales and myths in sport. They say that drinking alcohol can increase performance by making you more confident. What do you have to say? Wife’s tales indeed! The disadvantages far outweigh the benefits. Alcohol consumption immediately before or during activity has a detrimental effect on performance, even though it reduces feelings of insecurity, tension and discomfort. It may cause the athlete to believe that he/she is performing better. Some athletes incorrectly believe that because it contains carbohydrates they can load up to improve their performance. Perceptual motor performance, gross motor skills, balance and coordination are affected by alcohol consumption. It should not be used to hydrate immediately after exercise because instead of replacing the fluid that your body has lost, the alcohol makes you lose fluid faster, thereby resulting in insufficient fluid replacement and can lead to dehydration. Alcohol also has adverse effects on blood glucose and glycogen levels. 31