An athlete and even more so a footballer is always seeking ways to improve their performance. One of those ways is through nutrition.

The history of sports nutrition

If you look back at the history of sports nutrition, you will see that from the 6th century athletes used to eat 10kg of meat every day, believing that this would improve their performance. In 1804 it was thought that tea and bread before and during a game or race would improve performance. From 1939 onwards, carbohydrates start to receive special attention and recognition of their significance in athletic performance, while in 1963 the first two deaths attributed to doping occurred, giving rise to the first anti-doping measures. However, the science of sports nutrition started to develop especially after 1990 with constant research on sports nutrition and its role in maximising performance. Research was either carried out in labs or under actual conditions during a race or a game for each sport separately.

The importance of good nutrition in today’s sports

Football, and especially UEFA, attaches great importance to good nutrition and this is precisely the reason why conferences are organised where sports nutritionists of leading teams gather to present new developments in their field and provide sound advice to teams and their players.

The role of nutritionists in teams

A sports nutritionist in a football team has a role of paramount significance. Football is a team sport where approximately 25 to 30 players from different countries, backgrounds, and religions come together as a team. When it comes to nutrition, players often have different convictions on what good nutrition is and this is why a sports nutritionist is necessary. It is the nutritionist’s responsibility to give the correct advice based on scientific research and to help every footballer learn what to eat to be healthy, but also to perform better. Therefore, a sports nutritionist’s primary role is to transfer the correct information and convince footballers about what’s right and what’s wrong.

Education and monitoring

A nutritionist in a football team is responsible for properly educating players, as well as the entire coaching team. Moreover, a nutritionist is responsible to carry out different measurements so that footballers are monitored and kept at the correct weight and fat ratio depending on their assigned position and body type so that they are in excellent shape. Over the training period, a nutritionist prepares the menus (before and after), as well as the menus for home and away games. Last but not least, a nutritionist suggests ideal foods to be consumed during training to prevent dehydration and early onset fatigue.

Nutritional supplements under conditions

When it comes to supplement use, the role of nutritionists is also significant. The needs of every footballer individually and of the team as a whole are examined so that the correct supplements are given in compliance with WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) requirements. Before use, every supplement is always checked to ensure it is approved and to safeguard the health and safety of the footballer concerned.

Overall, a sports nutritionist’s contribution is considered significant in improving a team’s performance and in achieving its goals at every stage.