Midday kick-off breakfast
“This breakfast packs around 880 kcals of energy,” explains Dr Laing. Bananas are a tried and tested energy food for sportsmen, as their potassium helps muscles to contract properly during exercise, reducing cramp, and the honey adds carbohydrates. Laing adds, “Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit.” Be sure to wash down your pre-match porridge with a vitamin C-rich juice. This is also a low-glycaemic index (GI) meal, so its contents won’t cause your body to experience a blood sugar surge followed by an energy drain. “Low GI foods increase exercise capacity and the rate of fat oxidation,” says Laing.
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Late afternoon lunch
This dish provides slow-release carbohydrates to give you a drip-feed of energy. “Sweet potatoes are packed full of antioxidants and the chickpeas are a very good source of fibre and minerals, which improve blood sugar levels and aid in the maintenance of strong bones, as well as helping to lower high blood pressure,” says Laing. They’re also a good source of protein. Spices such as ginger have the ability to calm an upset stomach and promote the flow of bile, easing any stomach cramps and improving blood circulation. Ginger supports a healthy cardiovascular system by making platelets in the blood less sticky, in turn reducing circulatory problems.
Evening kick-off dinner
This perfectly combines performance enhancement with a tasty dish. “The salmon fillet can easily be grilled in five minutes and the couscous is prepared simply by adding boiled water,” explains Laing. “Salmon is low in saturated fat and high in protein, and also reduces the risk of unwanted inflammation.” This is due to omega-3 essential fatty acids, better absorbed from salmon even than cod liver oil supplements. Broccoli has an unusually strong combination of both vitamin A and vitamin K, while the green beans boost bone strength and muscle function. Laing adds, “Foods that are easily palatable and a pleasure to eat will have positive psychological effects on mood state and match performance.”