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Eat like a superstar: Muscle fuel


Whey protein shake and bag of salted popcorn
Whey protein is digested quickly so you won’t feel bloated during your session. The amino acids kick-start your recovery before a single bead of sweat drips down your face. Studies have found a pre-workout shake can be as effective, if not more, at aiding recovery than chugging one after. Popcorn provides slow release carbohydrates, drip-feeding energy into your system. The electrolytes in salt improve the uptake of water, keeping you hydrated and off the floor grimacing with cramp after the five-minute warm-up.

High-protein yoghurt with fruit
Yoghurt contains casein protein, which coagulates in your stomach, slowing down the digestive process. Eating this before training will give your bloodstream a steady level of amino acids to help ease muscle soreness the day after a gruelling pre-season session. Partner the yoghurt with any fruit. Something sweet and fleshy will contain simple sugars, which will help fuel your body for an intense workout. Fruit also has important vitamins and minerals for improved immune function and energy production.

Can of mackerel in olive oil with crispbreads
Mackerel is a fantastic source of muscle-building protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Armed with powerful anti-inflammatory powers, this oily fish will ensure you don’t need to call 999 to revive your flat-lining legs. Your heart will welcome the olive oil to help you stave off an energy slump. The crispbreads are light, easy to digest and serve up a healthy slice of complex carbohydrates and B vitamins. You’ll be so full of beans that you might even get called in for a random drugs test...


Pork steaks with homemade sweet potato wedges
Scoffing on some pork after training will pump your body with zinc to boost testosterone levels as well as giving you a protein hit, helping your weary legs to recharge. Vitamin B12 will fire up your energy levels so you’re ready for training the following day. It’s also full of iron, which is vital for the transportation of oxygen around the body. The fibre-packed sweet potato will keep you full and tiredness will be kept at bay by the get-up-and-go packed in the carbohydrates and antioxidants.

Nando’s half-chicken, spicy rice and macho peas
Of course, you can’t call yourself a footballer until you’ve chowed down a cheeky Nando’s. Cheeky or not, order correctly and it’s a great meal for recovery. This particular heavyweight protein-puncher aids muscle repair and growth, while the essential fats soothe your aches and pains. Rice and peas deliver complex carbohydrates and fibre to replenish your diminished glycogen stores, which will stop your blood sugar crashing. And as a bonus, the spice increases your rate of metabolism, helping you burn off your muffin top.

Teriyaki chicken breast and pineapple burger
Chicken remains one of the best sources of lean protein available to athletes, and coating it in teriyaki sauce gives you a nice hit of sodium to prevent cramping (plus it tastes great). A large pineapple ring contains 75 per cent of your daily manganese, boosting bone health. It’s also rich in an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down proteins in your gut to improve digestion. The bread will give you all the complex carbs you need to replace lost glycogen stores and stop that heavy leg feeling.

Nutritional information provided by performance nutritionist Ben Coomber. For more visit

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