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NUTRITION and HYRDATION AFL football takes a lot out of the body from depleting energy stores to the toll of physical contact.

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NUTRITION and HYRDATION AFL football takes a lot out of the body from depleting energy stores to the toll of physical contact. Most AFL players prepare their body s for training sessions and games by getting
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NUTRITION and HYRDATION AFL football takes a lot out of the body from depleting energy stores to the toll of physical contact. Most AFL players prepare their body s for training sessions and games by getting physiotherapy and massage to ease aches and pains but they also need to eat correctly before the game to ensure they have sufficient energy to get through a full game of AFL. Pre-Training and Pre-Game Fuel Pre-Training and Pre-Game Fuel food and fluid intake are the final stages of recovery from a week of hard training to ensure the body is fully stocked before the game begins. Why should you eat before the game? Training day in, day out, can reduce the body s energy reserves especially carbohydrate stores. This is why it is essential to replenish these after every training session. But it doesn t just stop there, it is important that carbohydrate recovery is continued right up until the start of the game. A pre-game intake of carbohydrate ensures that you have enough of this essential energy source to compete at 100% for the whole game and not run out of energy as the game goes on, which may happen if your carbohydrate stores are not fully loaded. What Should You Eat Before Training or a Game? It is important that your pre-training or pre-game meal is something you like! Most AFL footballers have a favourite meal that they will have regularly eat before heading out onto the field. Usually the meal follows a few basic guidelines: ~ High in carbohydrate ~ Have a fluid component (ie. drink) ~ Low in fat ~ Foods you like and are comfortable with. The timing of the pre-training or pre-game meal is also an important consideration as eating too close to the game can cause an upset stomach, while having some-thing too far in advance can mean you are hungry during the game It is recommended that you eat your pre-game meal about two-to-four hours prior to training or a game. This allows enough time for the food pass through the stomach and into the intestines where it can be absorbed for use. The exact timing of the meal will depend on how your body handles the pre-game build up. Anxiety and nerves can cause disruptions in the digestion process and can lead to stomach upsets. If you are someone that suffers from nerves or anxiety it is a good idea to eat well before the game and consume lighter snacks or fluid choices closer to the game. Some Pre-game meal examples are: ~ Breakfast cereal or porridge and reduced fat milk ~ Toast or muffins with jam/honey/peanut butter ~ Baked beans or tinned spaghetti on toast ~ Pasta with a low fat tomato based sauce ~ Sandwiches or rolls with low fat meat, cheese and salad ~ Creamed rice and tinned fruit ~ Rice or noodles and low fat stir fry ~ Low fat smoothies or liquid sports nutrition supplement Hydration Before Training & Games Hydration is an important concern for AFL footballers and drinking enough in the lead up to a game is just as important as eating well. It is a good idea to consume fluid at your pre-training and pre-game meal and in the hours leading up to the game. Sports drinks provide the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. By consuming sports drinks leading into the game you can ensure that you have carbohydrate for energy and also sufficient fluid and electrolytes for adequate hydration. RECOVERY, NUTRITION and HYDRATION Footballers need to recover well between games if they are to perform well each week. The hard running during a game, plus bumps and knocks, can cause significant muscle damage and result in tightness and soreness post training / post-game. How you pull-up after training and games is largely determined by how you recover. Playing AFL footy also uses up the body s energy stores and may result in large fluid losses which need to be replaced. The food and fluids consumed following exercise are critical for optimal recovery The earlier you start the recovery process, the better your muscles and body will feel for the next training session. Within 30 minutes of stopping any activity is a key window in which players can make a big impact on the recovery process. Immediately after games, both physical recovery and adequate nutrition are essential to get the body back into top condition. Priorities post-game: ~ Re-hydrate ~ Muscle repair ~ Replace fuel stores ~ Fluid Replacement Trainers and Water Carriers do a great job in providing fluids to players during the game, however it is often difficult for footballers to keep up with fluid losses and this leads to a fluid deficit at the end of the game. It is important to replace fluid as soon as possible, with the aim of drinking 1.5 times the amount of fluid lost in the game during the several hours postgame (eg. player lost 1.5kg during game, aim is to drink minimum 2.25l for adequate fluid replacement). Water is fine for most people after exercise when it is accompanied by snacks or a meal that can provide other nutrients. However, if a player does not feel like eating solid fluids for several hours then it is important to drink fluids containing nutrients e.g. sports drinks, liquid meal replacements, milk drinks and smoothies. The Physical Recovery Process Recovery and Rehabilitation following training and games involves the management of the athlete from the time any activity finishing to return to sport. Soft tis-sue injuries vary in type (e.g. tendon, muscle, ligament, muscle bruising etc.) and severity however a generalised program of staged recovery should be followed. The stages of recovery / rehabilitation are: 1. Unloading Phase (Tissue Recovery/Regeneration) 2. Restoration of Normal Physiology (Early) 3. Restoration of Normal Physiology (Late) 4. Functional Training (Sport Specific Demands) 1. Unloading Phase (Tissue Recovery/Regeneration = 0-12 hrs) This commences immediately following activity and is aimed to protect the body from excessive loads likely to impact on normal tissue healing. Total rest or inactivity is not necessary, rather active recovery and static stretching at an appropriate level is required. The length of time for recovery is dependent on the level of workload undertaken. Utilisation of the RICE principle (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a simple way of remembering the components of the Unloading Phase 2. Restoration of Normal Physiology (Early = hours) This involves the introduction of increasing loads/demands on the tissue after suitable time for tissue recovery has been allowed. Loads need to be kept at an appropriate level for timeframe of tissue healing. This involves both static stretching and return to low impact activity aimed at muscle tissue involved without causing excessive pain or any post exercise swelling/prolonged soreness. 3. Restoration of Normal Physiology (Late= 24 hrs+) Continuation of loading of tissues to full strength / stretching loads. Loading through this phase will begin to mimic normal daily and sporting loads. Loading is progressed through from slower to faster rates of application and from short to longer duration. Should have normal tissue strength at the end of this stage in preparation for the final stage of Functional Training. 4. Functional Training (Sport Specific Demands) Final stage of recovery / rehabilitation to be completed before full return to sporting activity. This stage is vital to ensure athlete has suitable physical resilience to withstand the demands of normal training and game workloads. Utilisation of dynamic balance / loading activities is important during this stage. Activity or exercises undertaken should mimic sport specific demands. Frequently the final stage of recovery / rehabilitation is poorly directed and controlled as players are relied to give assessment of how they feel, leaving the athlete vulnerable to injury on return to competitive environment. What Foods Are Best for Recovery from Exercise? It is important to consume food and fluids as soon as possible, ideally within minutes after the game. Protein and carbohydrate are essential nutrients for recovery. Research indicates that protein is essential following strength training to promote muscle recovery and optimal muscle mass increase. Carbohydrates are also required to replace that burnt during exercise and restore muscle glycogen. A snack such as a chicken and salad roll (white bread) is the perfect option, containing protein and high glycemic index carbohydrates. For individuals who don t feel like eating straight away, a liquid meal replacement or milk-based drink is another great choice. Fruit, low-fat muffins, muesli bars or dried fruit/almonds are also suitable post-exercise snacks. Post-Training or Game Meal The meal eaten in the hours after the game can make a big difference to recovery, and should contain protein and carbohydrate, but not too much fat. Good choices include: ~ Beef and vegetable stir-fry with rice or noodles ~ Pasta with chicken or lean meat tomato sauce, add vegetables or salad ~ Chicken and vegetable risotto ~ Grilled chicken with vegetables (including potato/pumpkin) ~ Home-made pizza (low-fat cheese and lean ham) ~ Soup with pasta/noodles/rice and meat/chicken/legumes Don t forget to have a large drink with this meal, and sip regularly on fluids during the hours after training and games Complete recovery is not achieved in just a few hours after the game; it can often take more than 24 hours. Adequate fluid and food intake is important over the next couple of days to ensure optimal recovery and preparation for the next game ahead.
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