Grab 300g cottage cheese
Why? Because it’s the perfect post-match mender of sore legs. “A few tablespoons of this before bed after playing or training is incredibly good for players, because it contains casein protein, which is slow release, so it will repair muscles while you sleep,” says Mayur.
How to scoff it: On a Ryvita cracker or on its own, at night.
Grab 335g broccoli
More after the break
Why? Packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, calcium and fibre, broccoli is a recovery-friendly essential, post-match. Look elsewhere for iron, though: “It’s hard to absorb iron from plant sources – meats are better,” says Mayur. “But you need green vegetables.”
How to scoff it: Keep the goodness in by steaming over a pan for 10 minutes.
Grab 20 green tea bags
Why? Replace your coffee or cola with green tea and you’ll already be on the virtual training ground. “This contains EGCG – epigallocatechin gallate – which is a compound that increases fat oxidation,” says Mayur. “It also has some caffeine so it’ll give you an energy boost.”
How to scoff it: Boil water and pour into mug, Einstein.
Grab fresh oysters
Why? Famed as an aphrodisiac, oysters can also fuel your footballing passion. “Oysters are high in zinc, deficiency of which can reduce levels of testosterone,” says Mayur. “They’re also lean and high in protein.”
How to scoff it: Try the less expensive tinned version over rice or pasta.
Cost: They vary according to weight, with tinned versions from £1.99 – try to avoid sunflower oil-preserved versions.
Grab coconut water, 1l
Why? Nothing rehydrates you more naturally, or with greater benefits. “It’s fat-free and high in electrolytes, potassium and sodium – all key things you’ll lose while exercising,” says Mayur.
How to scoff it: Glug it straight, and try different flavours if you’re not a coconut fan. Resist the urge to add a shot of vodka.
Grab 400g blueberries
Why? The blue superfood’s reputation is well deserved. “They’re ideal for footballers because they are packed with polyphenols, which help aid recovery and can reduce inflammation – although you’ll need to eat quite a lot of them to get the benefits.”
How to scoff it: In salads, on cereal, on yoghurt... or just cram into your mouth in handfuls.
Grab 1kg basmati rice
Why? Pasta is a footballers’ favourite, but it’s difficult for many to digest. “Basmati rice is a better carbohydrate,” says Mayur. “It has a moderate glycemic index, which means it doesn’t raise blood sugar as quickly, and it’s wheat- and gluten-free – things that can impair performance for some.”
How to scoff it: 10 minutes of boiling and it’s ready to mix in with your favourite meat or vegetables.
Grab four free range chicken fillets
Why? A staple of most athletes’ diets for a reason: “It’s lean, it’s easy to cook and it’s the perfect source of healthy, low-fat protein,” says Mayur. “Go free range, because it is a higher-quality, better cut of meat.”
How to scoff it: Take your pick: diced for a stir-fry, roasted, in a sandwich, in a salad…
Cost: £7-10, depending on the weight.
Grab 300g quinoa
Why? This crop is a rare beast: high in good carbs and proteins. “Although it’s a grain, it contains all the essential amino acids, which make it great for recovery after playing and perfect for supporting your training,” says Mayur.
How to scoff it: Guzzled on its own, sprinkled liberally over porridge or added to salads.
Grab 260ml coconut oil
Why? If you’re trying to stay physically sharp, you should avoid cooking with sunflower or vegetable oil. “They’re high in Omega 6 fatty acids, which increase inflammation,” says Mayur. “Coconut oil is low in Omega 6 but high in medium-chain triglyceride, which is a great exercise fuel.”
How to scoff it: Drizzle on salads or use it to fry meat and veg – which it does much better than olive oil.
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