’Tis the season for overindulging in party food, alcohol, chocolate, late nights and hangovers!
While Christmas 2020 may be a little different to usual thanks to a certain global pandemic, relaxed lockdown restrictions mean that there is still every chance of overindulging with friends and family.
How do you fit in a busy social calendar, while keeping lean, mean and healthy for football? In this article we look at how to create a balance, so you can still enjoy the festive season while staying fit for your December matches.
Even those who have a finely-tuned eating plan throughout the year can find that things go out the window when an industrial-sized box of Quality Street enters the scene.
There’s no issue with indulging a little over the holidays, although remember that traditional Christmas food is traditionally calorific food. Mince pies, chocolate logs, pigs in blankets and cheese boards are all packed with calories, while lacking much nutritional value.
A simple way to stay satisfied so you can enjoy these foods without overeating is to practice mindful eating – simply eating with a bit of awareness. This can be as simple as just chewing your meals slower and listening to when your body is naturally full. It can also mean being aware of when you are reaching for another slice of cake for the sake of it.
In addition to enjoying some of the Christmas food, you should still try to hit the important macro and micronutrients your body needs to thrive. Keep your protein high to maintain lean muscle mass – this can be from the turkey, or from nuts, eggs, beans or soy products.
It goes without saying that you should also eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (that means sprouts!) to ensure you are taking in enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. Aim for at least a portion of fruit and veg with every meal.
At this time of the year it can also be sensible to take a multivitamin. In case you are not hitting the optimum levels of vitamin intake for your needs, a multivitamin can be a good insurance policy. For example, our Multivitamin supplement is a premium-quality multivitamin designed to support the daily requirements of footballers, featuring an advanced vitamin B complex, vitamin D3 (i.e. the ‘sunshine vitamin’), essential antioxidants, and ten essential minerals.
While we can relax on Christmas Day, it is wise to treat your nutrition in the build up to December matches in the same way as you would any other game. This means eating enough carbohydrates in the 48 hours before the match, as well as a balanced meal eaten around two to four hours before kick-off. Our article on how to fuel for Sunday league football has more on this important subject.
In addition to overeating, Christmas is synonymous with overindulging in alcohol. You don’t need us to tell you the negative impact that too much alcohol can have on the quality of your training and matches.
If you enjoy a drink, try to drink sensibly – especially around exercise, training and matches. Try to stick to an appropriate amount of alcohol and drink while eating a substantial meal. Also aim to knock back a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. This will all go a long way to preventing dehydration, which is the number one cause of all those awful hangover symptoms the following morning.
You can also consider boosting your hydration with a specially-formulated supplement such as our Hydrate90. Used by players from Premier League to Sunday league, Hydrate90 is available as both an effervescent tablet for daily hydration without extra carbs and sugar, or as an energy and electrolyte drink to deliver an energy boost that’s perfect for before and during a match.
If you are planning to drink over the festive season, be sure to read more on the effects of alcohol on footballers as well as how to prevent and manage a hangover sensibly.
Tying everything together is movement. Our bodies are designed to move and we feel better for it. Movement helps us to retain muscle mass and bone density, it improves how our body uses nutrients, and it can do wonders for our mental health.
Movement over the Christmas period can be trickier than other times of the year, especially when football is your chosen activity. Busy social calendars, adverse weather conditions and frozen pitches threaten to put a spanner in the works when it comes to sticking to your football fitness timetable.
Despite this, it is important to keep active over the winter. Even if you can’t train with your team or at the gym, aim to get in your 10,000 daily steps, maybe throw in a light jog or even some bodyweight exercises to keep the blood flowing and the calories in check.
However, listen to your body. Chances are you may need a week off from high-intensity training to allow your body to recover from the usual running, jumping, lifting, tackling and everything else it gets up to for the other 51 weeks of the year. Take a break if you need it, then come back to football raring to go in January.
In whatever way you plan to eat, move and celebrate, have a happy Christmas from everybody at Soccer Supplement!