Eating out before the big game

Know what to order when you've been dragged to an Italian, Indian or Chinese restaurant on the eve of a matchday - with an expert verdict from West Ham and England chef Tim De'Ath

Italian

 
Kick-off: Minestrone knocks spots off the garlic bread or oil-drenched bruschetta as your entree. This vegetable ‘zuppa’ is filling but very light on calories – between 50-100 calories to a bowl and negligible fat content. The fibre in the vegetables will ease digestion and help you keep your fat levels in check.
 
Main event: Go for pasta over pizza. “The fuel boosting complex carbohydrates need time to weave their way into your system,” says Ruth McKean, exercise nutritionist with the Scottish Institute for Sport.  A pile of penne or spaghetti the night before will give you a drip-feed of endurance come kick-off time.
 
“If you are going for meat, opt for a lean one like chicken,” McKean adds. And you should try steering clear of the fatty sauces – even the mince bolognese will take your main over the 600 calorie mark – and instead go for the arrabiata sauce. The chilli content will add a metabolism kick and the calories for a standard dish will weigh in at around 450.
 
Take On Fluid: Water and wine every time. Reap the rewards of the house red – that includes heart-protecting resveratrol – while the H2O will dampen your appetite a little and stop the sodium in side dishes, such as Parma ham slices, from dehydrating you too much on matchday. Combine the three and you’ll be fuelled like a pro and ready to go for 90 minutes.
 
Total calories: 600-650. Getting rid of this little taste of Italy will take 60 minutes of high-intensity clogging.
 
Tim's verdict 10/10: Carbs everywhere, which is great for energy, while one glass of wine won't hurt. This is something I'd prepare for England and West Ham.
 
 

More after the break

Chinese

Kick-Off: Forget the prawn crackers (535 calories and 35g of fat per 100g) and opt for the chicken and sweetcorn soup. “Soups have a low energy density (few calories per mouthful) helping us feel satisfied without overdoing it,” explains dietician Lyndel Costain.
 
Main Event: Order beef with black bean sauce – The American Journal of Nutrition has found that beef combats fatigue and improves concentration – and avoid fattier, flavoured rices and go for the boiled stuff. “Try to use chopsticks,” says McKean. “They will leave more of the fat and sodium on the plate.”
 
Take On Fluid: “Give Tsingtao the red card and opt instead for lychee juice,” advises McKean. “It’s a natural bone-strengthener and muscle-aid.”
 
Total calories: 750-850. A 190lb (13st 8lb) man will burn off around 700 calories over 90 mins – so long as he’s not in goal.
 
Tim's verdict: 7/10: The beef provides a good source of protein while the rice will give you plenty of energy.
 

Indian

Kick-Off: “Avoid the poppadoms,” warns Matt Lovell, sports nutritionist with the Rugby Football Union and deviser of FourWeekFatLoss.com. “Each one is like a bag of crisps.” Go for a plain naan (150 calories) dipped in cucumber raita.
 
Main Event: The vegetable biryani (500 calories) puts a 870-calorie chicken korma into a coma and won’t hang around your middle. Smaller dishes are best, with gobi aloo saag (350 calories) rich in metabolism-boosting spices. Have low-fat, carb-rich saffron rice too.
 
Take On Fluid: “Avoid the Noah’s ark approach - two cobras, two kingfishers, two tigers,” says Lovell. Choose bone-boosting calcium in the shape of a crushed ice, yoghurt and mango concocted lassi.
 
Total calories: 950-1000. Time needed to burn that off; 90 minutes plus 30 minutes’ extra time.
 
Tim's verdict: 5/10: The veg has plenty of nutritional value while the lassi is packed with vitamins. But don't eat too much or it'll weigh you down during the game.

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