In one of my very first posts here on Futsal Football Coach, I gave this instruction on how to eat before a match –
“we should be aiming to consume something more like 1g/kg of body weight, 3-4 hours ahead of kick-off”
However, I have to admit that I ignore my own advice.
Don’t get me wrong – the science is right here. Nutrition plays an important role in football, and top professionals eat a high-carbohydrate pre-match snack 3 hours prior to kick-off. Despite what you might hear though, I’m not a top professional.
Whereas Mario has a team of nutritionists and chefs on-hand at Bayern Munich, I race home from work, put my kids to bed and then have to be back out the door ready for kick-off. The best food that I can hope for in that time is usually whatever leftovers my wife has left in the microwave for me.
And we all know exactly how it feels to play football on a belly-full of pizza.
So if all of the advice out there states that to play at our best we must follow these strict nutritional guidelines, how can those of us with a life outside of football expect to put in a world-beating performance and be the envy of our team mates?
Well, this is where I reveal my secret list of 13 pre-match snacks that you can pull together in minutes and eat right before you leave for your local futsal pitches.
Wholemeal Toast, Banana, Honey and Cinnamon
Preparation time – 5 minutes
The key to getting the right fuel in your body is to mix your simple and complex carbohydrate intake for a base of slow-burning energy topped off by an instant hit. The complex carbs in the wholemeal toast and banana have a lower Glycaemic Index (GI 69 and 55), which means your body absorbs them slowly and you get a balanced, slow-burn of energy right throughout your match.
And, the sugars in the banana and honey will also provide you with a quick-hit of energy to get you flying out of the traps at kick-off.
As an added bonus, the potassium in the banana will keep your muscles pumping, and the cinnamon will help to stabilise your blood sugar, keeping you working harder for longer during the game.
Preparation time – 5 minutes
Get your fill of complex carbs by making sure that you’re using a large wholemeal tortilla wrap. Top this up with some red onion, peppers and tomatoes, filling up your tank and keeping your engine purring right through until full time.
The turkey is a delicious source of lean protein, which is very easily digested by your stomach, so will not cause you any stomach upsets when you’re playing.
For a bit of flavour, add a tablespoon of mustard – this will help with digestion and works to increase heart function and red blood cell production, keeping your metabolism firing to aid your performance.
Chicken and Cheese Bagel
Preparation time – 2 minutes
With an absolute feast of carbs in the wholemeal bagel, this is a fantastic source of pre-match fuel. Spread a tablespoon of low-fat cheese spread on it and you have a delicious base for your pre-match meal.
Now, add a generous portion of chicken to it and you have your fill of lean protein too, which will be ideal for fuelling your game and for your post-match recovery.
Just remember – it’s a wholemeal bagel you’re after for the slow-burning complex carbs.
Mocha Protein Shake
Preparation time – 3 minutes
Need to fuel up on the go? Then a protein shake is ideal. You can throw this together in a couple of minutes, or prep a batch ahead of time and store in the fridge.
In a blender, mix 1 cup of semi-skimmed milk, 2 scoops of chocolate flavour whey protein powder, 1 cup of cooked rolled oats and 1 cup of strong coffee. Throw in some ice and blend until it’s a smooth consistency (this’ll take about 2 minutes).
There’s a good helping of carbs and protein in here to keep you going throughout your game. Then there’s the added caffeine boost, which has been shown to boost stamina, improve endurance and delay fatigue.
Get this down you about an hour before kicking a ball and you’ll be set for the whole match.
Preparation Time – 3 minutes
Not a fan of coffee, or prefer something a little sweeter? Then try this berry smoothie recipe.
Grab your blender again and throw in 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 cup of low-fat Greek yoghurt and 1/4 cup of skimmed milk. Mix together with some ice until it’s smooth (again, about 2 minutes).
There’s a nice helping of carbs in this one. Although you don’t have the caffeine kick like the Mocha Protein Shake, the natural sugars from the fruit are still enough to give you a quick boost as you kick-off.
Get this one in about 30-60 mins ahead of kick-off.
Ham Omelette and Wholemeal Toast
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Now this one is the daddy! You’re going to get your supply of complex carbs from the toast that will slowly release a steady supply of energy right through your game.
Add to this the protein boost you’re going to get from the eggs and the ham and you are going to be an unstoppable machine.
While your wholemeal bread is in the toaster, whip up an omelette with 2 whole eggs and the whites from another 1 or 2. Throw in a handful of ham pieces and get this down you an hour or so before you head out to play.
Porridge with Honey and Fruit
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Like the wholemeal toast, banana and honey, the porridge offers the perfect mix of complex carbs for slow energy release and simple sugars for that quick hit.
Mix into a saucepan a cup of porridge oats and a cup of semi-skimmed milk. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes, just until you get the right consistency. An even easier option is to put the oats and milk into a bowl and microwave on high (about 800W) for 5 minutes (give it a stir halfway through).
Drizzle a bit of honey into it and throw in some sliced banana or apple, or a handful of berries.
Just make sure you let it cool for a minute or two before getting stuck in.
Weetabix with Banana and Honey
Preparation time – 1 minute
If you really do not have time to cook porridge (or just can’t be bothered with the washing up afterwards) then replace it with a couple of Weetabix (Weetabi?). They will offer you roughly the same amount of slow-burning carbs, with the natural sugar kick of the honey and fruit.
Still Don’t Have The Time?
What do you do if you have to go to fives straight from school or work? You might be able to prepare these pre-match snacks in under 10 minutes, but if you do not have the means to do any preparation then you can’t very well boil up some porridge while driving your car.
If you really need something quick with absolutely no preparation, then try one of these –
- A fruit and nut bar (just make sure it has no added sugar like bars)
- A banana and a handful of cashew nuts or almonds
- A packet of dried fruit
- A handful of pistachios and raisins
So let’s be clear – the advice I gave previously is still accurate. If you have the time and energy, try to make sure you get a good, carb-loaded meal in (1g carbs for every kg you weigh) about 3 hours before you are due to play. This means you can continue flying around the futsal pitch for a good hour, without that feeling like you’re running out of steam and your legs have turned to jelly.
But most of us don’t have the time or means to prepare and eat a full meal this far in advance of playing. We have jobs or school to go to and we can’t adjust our hours to suit our playing time (unfortunately).
Although not ‘optimum’, these meal and snack ideas are going to give you the right amount of nutrients to make sure that you’re able to maintain your performance levels throughout your match. And, they are infinitely more convenient for those of us that have to dash to get to futsal in time to make kick-off.