Football is a game of 4 15 minute quarters and requires athletes to perform, at different levels anaerobically and aerobically, short maximal high-intensity bursts of speed, agility, strength, and power where fatigue and dehydration is inevitable. Nutritional and supplemental recommendations for Football training, pre-game, during game time, and post-game exceeds recommendations of those who are sedentary and focuses more on performance enhancement and recovery.
In order to excel in Football, an athlete must take into account his body frame, time practicing, playing time, and nutrient requirements to consume the right amounts of the following:
- Vitamins and minerals to help absorb nutrients, help recover and build muscle while sustaining the physical demands of football
- Amino acids to help with the growth, repair, and recovery of the muscles
- Antioxidants to help defend the athlete’s body from becoming sick
- Protein supplementation to build muscle
- Pre-Workout supplementation for the added benefit for energy and focus for a workout
- Creatine supplementation to help “hydrate” your muscles and enhance strength and endurance
This article will focus on two main topics: protein and creatine supplementation.
Protein seems to be “the bread and butter” of any supplementation program in every athlete, bodybuilder, gym-goer, common person, whether his or her focus is to build muscle, loos fat, enhance performance, enhance health and wellness, and/or simply to take the place of a snack or meal when running late or don’t have time to eat a meal. The most common type of protein being used is whey protein, and there are three types of whey protein: whey protein concentrate (least processed and least expensive), whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate (most processed and most expensive). Unless you plan on competing in bodybuilding/fitness competitions, the best recommendation for an highschool football athlete is whey protein concentrate which is the cheapest form of whey protein and also contains carbohydrates and fats to help promote muscle mass. When purchasing new protein, read the ingredients label to see which whey protein you are purchasing. Whey protein is quickly digestible, boosts protein synthesis and blood flow to the muscle increasing nutrients to the muscle to help muscle growth and recovery after a training session and/or game, and suppost fat loss.
Whey protein is mainly used within about 30 minutes of finishing a workout or game, but many add additional whey protein consumption 15-30 minutes before a workout or game. To provide the most amino acids to promote maximal muscle growth it is recommended consume amino acids contained in whey protein before, during, and after a workout and/or game, and this is where a whey protein supplement comes in handy due to its rapid digestive properties. Other forms such as chicken breasts and eggs take longer to digest. For highschool football athletes it is recommended to consume about 10-20 grams of whey protein (usually one scoop) before training to enhance strength and endurance and decrease breakdown of muscle. Consume about 20-40 grams of whey protein after training to help enhance muscle recovery and protein synthesis. Also consume 20-40 grams of whey protein in the morning after sleeping to help decrease muscle breakdown caused by not eating for a long period of time throughout the night, this “breakfast” consumption of whey protein can be also added to regular breakfast intake. There are many companies with many forms of protein, make sure to look at the ingredients label to know what you are purchasing.
Creatine is one of the best known supplementation products out and is mainly used as a fuel source for an energy system called ATP that focuses on short bursts of speed, strength, and power. If used correctly, it can be one of the safest supplements. Creatine is used to enhance the body’s ability to perform at high intensity resulting in increased muscle size, strength, and performance. Creatine helps recovery, improves anaerobic capacity, and enhances muscle volumization by increasing water from the bloodstream to the muscle, remember muscle is 2/3 water, making the muscle appear more “inflated.” Creatine has been found to:
- Promote muscle mass by increasing muscle fiber size, also known as hypertrophy
- Increase maximal strength and power
- Improve sprinting performance and endurance
- Improves recovery and may enhance bone regeneration
There are many forms of creatine products out on the market right now, choosing the best one may be difficult. There are Creatine Monohydrate, Creatine Phosphate, Creatine Citrate, Creatine Ethyl Ester, just to name a few. Creatine Monohydrate is the most used and researched form of creatine by athletes and by the common gym-goer. Many companies have their forms of creatine and different methods of consumption. Do your research and make a wise decision as to which creatine product you will choose, if you do choose to consume such a product, and ask your coach and parents about their opinions on the matter before cosuming.
Luis is Founder and President of the Strength & Speed Institute and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, certified as a Sports Performance Coach though the USAW, Fundamentals of Coaching Track & Field certified through USATF, and is a MAT Jumpstart Specialist through Greg Roskof’s Muscle Activation Techniques.