Daley Blind: Off-season essentials

The football season is over – so now what? Recharge your body, stay healthy and enjoy yourself, says Manchester United’s Dutch maestro

Enjoy your break
“Once the season ends, the club gives me three weeks off. I’m cautious with what I eat and drink and, of course, I might put on some weight, but I make sure I’m responsible. For me, the summer holidays are about letting everything go and spending quality time with my family and friends. I like to relax on the beach, play some tennis or have a kickabout with my mates. My mindset changes so I that can recharge my body and mind after a long, hard season.”

Treat your body to a holiday

Prepare for pre-season
“During the last week of my holiday, I’ll start running and stretching – nothing too intense, just light fitness work to get my body going again. The coaches at the club give us a programme for the off-season and that usually involves a mix of interval training and long runs. During the summer break I don’t usually go to the gym – I prefer to work out at home or outside, focusing on my core and mobility with Pilates. This helps with stability and agility.”

More after the break

Get ready for the hard work

Eat sensibly
Take responsibility for your nutrition. I don’t follow a particular diet, but I make sure I get enough vitamins by focusing on healthy food, like fruit and veg. If you eat junk food and don’t exercise, you’re obviously going to put on weight and struggle out on the pitch. You can enjoy your holiday and treat yourself without overdoing it. You feel better eating nice, healthy, nutritious food anyway. Bad food makes you feel lethargic and bloated. Who wants to feel like that?”

Avoid the fads and enjoy fresh food


Stay lean with protein
Drop the carbs for muscle-building meats, says United’s consultant nutritionist Mark Ellison   
Start your day the right way
Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, spinach 
“The off-season is a chance to indulge, but with a balanced, nutritional plan you can enjoy healthy food and avoid piling on the pounds. First, moderate your carb intake and consume more protein. This breakfast is a perfect start. Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse, and teamed with eggs it gives your body a truckload of muscle-repairing protein. Spinach won’t give you Popeye’s biceps, but it’ll stop a muffin top spilling over your Speedos. It’s full of natural compound ecdysteroids and boosts the body’s ability to break down glucose, so it doesn’t turn into fat.”

Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, spinach

Enjoy what the ocean has to offer
Tuna, spinach, watercress, quinoa, avocado, cherry tomatoes
“Pre-season training is hard enough without having to lose weight. Putting on 1-2kg isn’t a huge deal, but any more and you’ll increase your risk of injury. This salad will help you fight off fat. A 200g tin of tuna provides 40g of protein. Because you’re more active in the day, it’s OK to have some carbohydrates, and quinoa will give you a dose of protein and healthy fats. The avocado is bursting with so much goodness, your heart will want to hug you – tick off fibre, potassium and vitamin K when you take a bite of it.”

Tuna, spinach, watercress, quinoa, 
avocado, cherry tomatoes

Winner, winner, chicken dinner
Chicken, broccoli, green beans, sweet potato
“Double up on vegetables at dinner and reduce your carb intake to a small side dish. Vegetables will provide lots of nutrients and fibre to fill you up and a small amount of slow-release low-GI carbs to keep you going. Beware of sauces and dips because they’re often loaded with extra sugar. Grilled chicken breast will give you a protein hit, and broccoli will blast your body with bone-boosting calcium and iron that aids in the conversion of glucose to energy. Green beans are a rich source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as magnesium and potassium.”

Chicken, broccoli, green beans, sweet potato


Recommended for you:
Jordan Henderson: Start the new season with an edge
Adam Lallana: Rest, recuperate and re-energise
Jack Rodwell: Get back into top gear
Off-season mind gym
Eat for the off-season
Stay sharp over the summer

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