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Fuelling for elite performance

Getting the balance of food right before a sporting event is essential in order to reach peak performance.

Every individual is different and requires different fuel.

Some of the things that should be taken into consideration when fuelling;
• Individuals weight
• Height
• Event/sport being played
• Duration of the session
• Goal
• Hydration requirements

For example I weigh 80kg. I performed best when consuming between 220-280 grams of carbohydrates, a small amount of protein (between 20-30g) and some healthy fats in the build-up to a game. 

For a 3pm kick off I liked to have breakfast at 7.30am and my pre match meal at 11.30am. An hour before kick-off I would have a beetroot shot and a banana to top up energy stores.

My performance in the Premier League

Credit image: AFC Bournemouth

I ran between 12-14km every week in the Premier League and felt great, recovered well and rarely got injured.

The food we eat pre competition will also have a huge influence on our body’s ability to deal with the intensity level of the event and in turn, help us recover much more efficiently. That being said, keeping on top of hydration levels throughout the game and making sure we put the correct food/fluid into our body post competition is one of those small percentages I always talk about that will make a huge difference.

In my opinion and through experience, these are things to avoid when fuelling for an event:

❌ Refined carbs – white bread, white rice, white pasta etc

❌ Refined sugar – sweets, cakes, breakfast cereal etc

❌ Processed protein – deli meats, cheese, ham, chorizo etc

❌ Foods high in saturated fat – cheese, sausage, bacon, muffins etc

These types of food cause sugar spikes in the blood and have a negative effect on performance and recovery. Rather than fuelling you for long sustained periods, you will have energy for a short period of time and then CRASH! They can also increase the inflammation markers in your blood which can put you at an increased risk of injury.

Smart swaps:

✅ Complex carbs – Brown rice, whole grain pasta, oats, sweet potato, brown sourdough, quinoa

✅ Natural sugar – Banana,, honey, maple syrup, dates,  berries, apple, pear

✅ Protein –  Chicken, salmon, eggs, turkey

✅ Healthy fat – Avocados, mixed nuts, mixed seeds, peanut butter, natural yogurt


As I have said previously, every individual is different so listen to your body and get to know what works for you in the build-up to a big game/event. I wouldn’t recommend trying new foods that your body is not used to before competition as it could give you a dodgy gut. Experiment before training and in off season in order to find that hidden formula that works well for you. And remember… those small percentages add up and will make you a better athlete.

Go-to meal for elite performance

One of my go-to pre match meals was chicken breast served with quinoa, roasted sweet potato and roasted tomatoes. I would then top up my carbs with 2 slices of brown sourdough with peanut butter and honey – This worked really well for me. 

This is just scratching the surface with regards to how you can optimised your performance using nutrition. If you would like to know more, please get in touch with me for more information about my 1 to 1 coaching services where I can tailor fitness and nutrition plans to suit you.

If you need any more information, feel free to contact me directly.

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