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Smoothies For Footballers | This Is How To Fill Your Nutritional Gaps

smoothies for footballers | this is how you can fill your nutritional gaps

Smoothies are very popular among footballers and can be easily integrated into your daily routine. They can help you load and replenish certain nutrients, and calories (weight/muscle gain) in your diet that can lead to benefits in overall health and football performance. Here’s how you can take advantage of them!

SMOOTHIES

A smoothie is a drink made from pureed raw fruit and/or vegetables, using a blender. A smoothie often has a liquid base such as water, fruit juice, plant milk, and sometimes dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cottage cheese. Smoothies may be made using other ingredients, such as crushed ice, sweeteners (honey or sugar), vinegar, whey powder, chocolate, or nutritional supplements, among others by personal choice.

THE LIST

In this part of the article, we are going to suggest some ingredients that you can use in your smoothies to make them as nutrient-dense and delicious as possible.

Please, keep in mind that your smoothie needs to fill in your nutrient gaps and serve your needs. A needs-analysis can be done in many different ways or a combination of them (i.e. blood test, food journal, etc.).

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are converted into glycogen, which is a footballer’s primary source of energy. We split carbohydrates into two categories, based on their structure; simple (mono-/di-saccharides) and complex (polysaccharides) carbohydrates.

Simple carbohydrates are faster to digest and absorb compared to complex ones that take more time to get processed by our bodies. As a rule of thumb, complex carbohydrates are usually preferred away from competition or training, whereas simple carbohydrates can be more useful (and convenient for our bodies) during and around competition and training. Click here for more info on carb-loading for football!

Smoothie ingredients high in carbohydrates

  • Fruit (Bananas, Berries, Oranges, Apples)
  • Oats
  • Dried Fruit
  • (Chocolate) Milk
  • Organic Honey
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Sugar

Protein

Protein is another nutrient of big importance to our body. It participates in a function known as muscle protein-synthesis which basically is responsible for muscle growth and recovery.

Here are some protein-rich ingredients you can use in your smoothie.

  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Cottage Cheese
  • (Chocolate) Milk
  • Whey/Casein Protein Powder
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Nut-Butters
  • Egg-Whites
  • Unsweetened Soy Milk

Fats

Fats have a “bad” reputation among the world, including footballers. However, research indicates that fats, especially “healthy” fats (mono-/poly-unsaturated fats), are important for various functions of our body such as endocrine and immune function, inflammation control, metabolic function, potential body composition, and football performance enhancements. [1]

Furthermore, fats are linked to brain health and improved cognitive functions.

Here are some foods rich in “healthy” fats.

  • Avocados
  • Eggs
  • Olive Oil
  • Flax Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Nut Butters
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are basically split into vitamins and minerals. These play such an important role in your overall health and subsequently your football performance.

You can find them in higher concentrations in different fruits and vegetables. Many micronutrient-rich foods also have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory purposes, further contributing to your recovery and overall health.

In general, you should aim for a variety of colors in your daily nutrition, in an attempt to cover your daily micronutrient requirements.

Here’s a list of a variety of vitamin- and mineral-rich foods:

  • Fruits (Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Avocados, Berries, Cherries, Kiwis, Pomegranates, Grapefruits, Watermelons, Mangos, Strawberries, Lemons, Pineapples, etc.)
  • Vegetables (Kale, Spinach, Ginger, Celery, Beets, Cucumbers, Pumpkin, etc.)
  • Others (Water, Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Dark Chocolate, Greek Yoghurt, (Chocolate) Milk, Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, etc.)

CREATING SMOOTHIES FOR FOOTBALLERS

Despite the internet being full of smoothies for footballers being labeled as the “best” ones, the truth is that the best smoothie(s) is the one that fills your nutritional needs and gaps.

In fact, what you need to do to get the most out of your smoothie, as with every other regular meal, is to make a needs analysis.

Some footballers might be looking to lose fat and therefore opt for a lower calorie version.

On the contrary, some other footballers might want a post-game shake to aid recovery.

Whereas others might want to integrate a pre-match/training smoothie in their daily lives to load glycogen stores through simple carbohydrates.

In the next part of the article, we’re going to suggest a handful of recipes that are going to satisfy your needs, by answering questions such as what, when, and most importantly, why.

High Protein Smoothies

High protein smoothies are great for players looking to either have a smoothie post-training/game or just increase their protein intake. Protein smoothies can be introduced to a footballer’s nutrition both as a meal and as a snack.

These high protein smoothies are usually based on high protein ingredients such as, milk (skim/chocolate/soy), Greek yoghurt, eggs (or egg-whites), whey/casein protein powder, or cottage cheese.

On top of those 1 or 2 protein-rich foods you’re going to add into your smoothie, there’s a handful of other ingredients you might add as well (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts, oats, etc.)

Here’s a sample recipe specific to post-match/training needs (high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals).

  • 250ml Milk (Skim/Chocolate/Soy)
  • 30-50gr Whey Protein Powder or 250gr Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 Medium Banana and/or Mixed Berries
  • 50gr Rolled Oats
  • Handful of Spinach
  • 1tbsp. Chia/Flax Seeds

High Carbohydrate/Energy Smoothies

Smoothies that are high in carbohydrates are usually suitable for pre-game/training consumption or even during such events as a refueling solution. Therefore, their content is high in simple carbohydrates, aiming for a faster and easier absorption and digestion.

On top of the simple carbohydrates, we might as well add some other ingredients, such as beets, which can benefit endurance, power, and speed performance due to their content in dietary nitrates (which are later converted into nitric oxide). [2]

Here’s a sample “energy-rich” smoothie.

  • 200ml Water
  • 1 Orange
  • 1-2 Beets
  • 1 tsp. Sugar/2 tsp. Organic Honey

High Calorie/Healthy Fat Smoothies

Smoothies that are high in calories are usually a great option for those players seeking to add some extra calories to their daily nutrition. What you usually have to do in order to increase the caloric content of your smoothie, is to include some healthy fat sources in it.

Fats have a really high caloric density compared to proteins and carbohydrates. In fact, for every gram of fat, you’re consuming 9 calories. On the other hand, every gram of protein or carbohydrates only has around 4 calories.

Lastly, fats are essential for various functions of your body and your overall well-being (joint lubrication, cognitive health, etc.).

Here’s another smoothie recipe. This one is high in fats and calories.

  • 300ml Milk (Skim, Chocolate, Soy, etc.)
  • 1 Medium Avocado
  • 1 Medium Banana and/or Mixed Berries (Handful)
  • 2tbsp. Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 Scoop Whey Protein or 150gr Greek Yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil or 4-5 Walnuts (Optional – Extra Calories)

Smoothies High in Vitamins & Minerals

As mentioned, smoothies can be easily integrated as meals or snacks. Smoothies filled with micronutrients are really popular, especially as snacks. Variety is key here! Consult the color palette and opt for something colorful.

Here are two great options.

Green Smoothie

  • 200ml Water 
  • 1 Orange/Lemon
  • Handful of Kale
  • Handful of Spinach
  • ½ Avocado
  • 3 Ribs of Celery
  • ½ Cucumber
  • 100gr Greek Yoghurt

Fruity Smoothie

  • 200ml Water
  • 1 Orange/Lemons
  • A Handful of Berries
  • 2 Pineapple Slices
  • 1 Kiwi
  • A bit of Ginger
  • 100gr Greek Yoghurt

WHEN & WHY YOU SHOULD (NOT) DRINK SMOOTHIES

As mentioned, smoothies are a great source of nutrients and calories and offer convenience to the individual footballer consuming them. However, there are some things that should be outlined.

First of all, just because you drink a “green” smoothie or a “protein” smoothie, does not mean your nutrition is ideal. One healthy option in your day doesn’t make up the whole picture!

Integrate smoothies in your daily or weekly life as part of an already established healthy eating schedule.

Also make sure, your smoothie is tailored to your own needs.

Something we see happen quite a lot is players consuming random smoothies they found on the internet without knowing the “purpose” behind their action.

Make a needs analysis and target your deficits.

For example, if you’re consuming your desired protein intake (i.e. 130gr) through your other meals but have a hard time-consuming fruits and vegetables, a more micronutrient-dense smoothie might fit well in your eating schedule as a snack.

Some other players might need that extra boost of simple carbohydrates before their training sessions to maximize their performance.

Evaluate your situation and fill in the gaps you need to fill.

REFERENCES

[1] Lowery, Lonnie M. “Dietary fat and sports nutrition: a primer.” Journal of sports science & medicine vol. 3,3 106-17. 1 Sep. 2004

 [2] Jones AM, Thompson C, Wylie LJ, Vanhatalo A. Dietary Nitrate and Physical Performance. Annu Rev Nutr. 2018;38:303-328 DOI: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-082117-051622


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