Football players need powerful bursts of energy and plenty of strength. However, they also need to maintain a healthy weight in order to maximize muscle strength and optimize performance. As a football player, if you are trying to lose weight there are little changes you can make in your day-to-day practices that can help you. Eating several small, frequent meals throughout the day instead of two or three larger ones, for example, can help you feel satisfied and prevent you from overeating. Avoiding certain foods and monitoring your portion sizes can also help.
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Overall, the American Dietetic Association, or ADA, recommends that you eat whole, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats to optimize your performance and help you maintain a healthy weight. Complex carbohydrates are those that are whole and not processed or refined. Examples include whole wheat breads and rolls, brown rice and other whole grains, as well as all vegetables and fruits. Lean protein can be either animal protein or plant protein. If you prefer animal protein, skinless poultry or fish are good examples of lean protein. If you prefer plant-based protein, try legumes or nuts. Good sources of healthy fats include most vegetable oils, avocadoes, nuts or seeds.
Sample Meal Plan
A good example of a healthy breakfast that can help you lose weight is scrambled eggs made up of 4 egg whites with skim cheese, onions, tomatoes and bell peppers, a slice of whole wheat bread and a glass of skim milk. As a mid-morning snack, try four to eight whole-wheat crackers with low-fat cottage cheese. For lunch, try a chicken salad with chickpeas, peppers, and corn with olive-oil vinaigrette. As an afternoon or post-practice snack, try three or four fat-free turkey and cheese rolls and a cup of fruit. For dinner, have 4 oz. to 5 oz. of chicken breast, whole-wheat rice and a vegetable. You can also include a vegetable soup if you do not feel satisfied, or some fruit. Finally, for an evening snack, try a cup of cereal with skim milk.
Foods to Avoid
If you want to lose weight, avoid alcohol and processed or junk food. Also, avoid high fat foods such as fatty or fried meats, other fried foods, desserts, and milk or cream-based sauces or gravies. Avoid sugary drinks such as fruit juices or sweetened teas, as well as sodas, as these are high in calories and contain little to no nutrients. Finally, try to avoid or limit the amount of energy and sports drinks that you consume as much as possible. These types of beverages are very high in calories, and in general, you can sustain adequate hydration and electrolyte levels by drinking plenty of water and following a healthy diet.
There are certain commercial diets that fit the recommendations for set forward by the ADA for strength athletes such as football players. Diets like the South Beach Diet or the Zone Diet promote whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, and can help you lose weight. Other diets that use exchange systems, such as Weight Watchers, work by reducing overall calories. These can also help you lower your body weight. However, everyone is different, so if possible, consult a registered dietitian to help you determine your individual needs and help you lose weight gradually.