The Young Footballers Diet

BY PROFESSOR MARIO STURLA


A sportsman’s diet should be specifically customized and tailored to the needs of each single individual.

It is therefore first of all advisable to consult a Sports medicine specialist, in order to have the young athlete undergo complete medical examination and a careful screening, and thus provide the “guidelines” to be followed while practicing the sport.

A healthy diet is a precious nutritional source, with the strength of being easily digested, assimilated and promptly transformed into energy. It is therefore vital for a diet to be varied and complete. You should have a good sugar and carbohydrate intake, with foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and fruit, and eat a sufficient amount of vegetables every day, alternating meat consumption (preferably white, such as chicken, turkey and rabbit) with fish.
Fish is always valuable food, since, besides being rich in renowned omega 3 fatty acids, it also contains iodine, sulphur, zinc, phosphorous, vitamin A and D, which are all useful elements for an athlete’s physical wellbeing.

It is advisable to cook any kind of food in the most Spartan manner, without adding any further fat. The best dressing for food still remains uncooked extra-virgin olive oil.

During the age of development it is important (in absence of intolerance to such food) to make use of milk and dairy products.

Sweet food can be allowed as gratification and not as a rule: traditional home-made apple pies or pastry are to be preferred, or more simply you can eat toasted bread with jam or marmalade or honey.

Water intake is fundamental, since, as everybody knows, water makes up around 70 -75% of the human organism, and is the substrate on which most organic chemical reactions take place. An individual should have an intake of at least two and a half litres every day.
The recommended rule is to drink especially when you are not thirsty, many times a day and in small quantities, better between meals. It is always preferable not to make use of sparkling water. It must be remembered that even slight dehydration may affect not only thermoregulation but also overall athletic performance.
Finally, meal times are of primary importance. The classic advice of having meals three hours before training has become a true and proper tenet. This rule allows you, first of all, to avoid dyspeptic disorders (belching, meteorism, nausea, vomit, heart rhythm disorders) which may be enhanced by physical strain, and secondly, is useful in order to avoid even greater consequences after a trauma ( one may just think, as an example, of a ball hitting a full-up stomach).

In conclusion, it is worth highlighting that, since an adolescent still has to cope with height and weight growth, it will be possible – under regular medical supervision and according to personal needs – to vary the quantities of food in the various stages of the age of
development.

By means of a simple, non-invasive, and cheap assessment, using an instrument called a skinfold calliper, a Sports medicine specialist will be able to check the thickness of subcutaneous fat, and this will be of valuable help in customizing even more the diet to the
needs of the athlete.

Common sense, beyond medical advice, is always the best guarantee for correct nutrition, and thus for a good lifestyle, too.