How to change your diet for the off-season

Get lean for pre-season as dietitian Matt Lawson rings the culinary changes to save your game

Get him off Full English breakfast
“This meal is terrible for energy levels. The saturated fat content slows down carbohydrate absorption and it’s high in calories, which your waistline really doesn’t need if you aren’t training.”

Warm up, son Bran flakes & blueberries
“Your body craves carbs early in the day, but it’s key to feed it the right type. Bran flakes provide a constant supply of energy, and blueberries will kickstart the fat-burning process.”

More after the break

Get him off Chicken salad sandwich
“You really should avoid ready-meal sandwiches at all costs. The high salt content isn’t good for heart health as it increases blood pressure – not great if you want to start pre-season in shape.”

Warm up, son Poached eggs on toast
“Maintaining muscle mass is a must over the summer. You’ll get 6.2 grams of protein per egg, so two or three is ideal for a healthy lunch. Wholegrain bread will help to ward off cravings.”

Get him off Burger & chips
“Supermarket burgers often have very low meat content, while frozen chips can be full of chemicals, including aspartame, which some studies have linked to various cancers. Stay away.”

Warm up, son Steak, homemade sweet potato chips & roasted veg
“Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin C and vegetables will ensure carbs are released slowly into the bloodstream. Always buy locally-sourced meat. ”

Get him off Crisps
“Fat, salt and sugar: you’ll find lots of all three in most packets of crisps. Together they can taste great, but if you eat large quantities you raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”

Warm up, son Nuts and seeds
“Snack on these instead of crisps. Brazil nuts contain healthy fats and selenium, which help to prevent cell damage. They can be high in calories – if you’re hungry, a handful will suffice.”


Watch your plate
Go easy on the calories to stay in tip-top shape

“During a game or high-intensity training session it’s quite common to burn up to 1,000 calories, but over the summer your energy demands are a lot less,” says Lawson, who advises Notts County, England Ladies and Team GB. “A young, slim 
winger may need only 2,500 calories per day when they are not training or playing matches, but if you’re built more like Leicester’s Wes Morgan, you may need 3,000 calories. So your energy requirements will depend on your body type.

“I encourage the Notts County squad to divide their plate into thirds: one for protein, one for carbohydrates and one for fruit and veg. If you stick to that, your weight should remain stable.

“I’d avoid protein supplements during the summer. They are liquid calories, which you don’t need if you’re not training that regularly. Also, try eating five to seven smaller meals per day – some studies have shown this can boost your metabolism so you burn more calories at rest.”

You can follow Matt Lawson on Twitter @mattlawson7

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