GAME DAY -1
The day prior to the game, the midfielders increase their carbohydrate intake to ‘carbohydrate loading’ levels. They achieve this by consuming 8-10g of carbohydrate for every kilogram of bodyweight over the course of the day. Ideally, they are consuming a meal or snack every two hours to meet these increased requirements. Up to twenty-four hours pre-game, the carbohydrates consumed are of low to moderate glycaemic index. After this they switch almost exclusively to high glycaemic index carbohydrates. Body size in the midfield can vary, though most midfielders are around 80-85kg which equates to 640-850g of carbohydrate over the 24-hour pre-game period. The example meal plan below shows an average midfielders intake the day before a game.
|Time of Meal||Food Source||Carb Quantity (g)|
|Breakfast||6-8 Weet-Bix with low fat milk, 1 medium sliced banana, 1tbs. honey & large glass fruit juice||160g|
|Morning Snack||2 slices raisin toast with low fat ricotta cheese, 1 banana sliced & regular t/a coffee||107g|
|Lunch||2 sandwiches with poached chicken breast, avocado & salad & piece of fruit||85g|
|Early Afternoon Snack||Cheese & tomato toasted sandwich & coffee||50|
|Late Afternoon Snack||Slice banana bread & Milo in low fat milk||102g|
|Dinner||Lasagne, 1-2 slices garlic bread, sweet potato mash & steamed vegetables||281g|
|Dessert||Apple crumble and low fat vanilla custard||92g|
The goal of the pre-game meal is to top-up carbohydrate stores without leaving the player feeling heavy or too full in the stomach. It also often doubles as a pre-game meeting time so supply of glucose to the brain for concentration is also paramount! The pre-game meal is consumed at least three hours prior to the first bounce to allow full digestion and prevent any gastrointestinal upset during the match. This meal for most running midfielders consists of high GI carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread or pasta, as well as, lean protein such as chicken. Some examples of pre-game meals include – pumpkin risotto, pasta with chicken in red sauce, teriyaki chicken and white rice, poached chicken and avocado white bread sandwich, white toast with low fat ricotta cheese, sliced banana & honey.
Even the lean and athletic bodies of the running midfielders can only store enough carbohydrate to fuel around 90 minutes of game time, which means energy stores will be running low by three-quarter time if no additional carbohydrates are taken on board during the first three-quarters. Given that the players have at least another 25 minutes of high intensity, repeated sprint efforts to maintain it is critical that additional carbohydrates are consumed. Most running midfielders will consume in the range of 60-80g of carbohydrate per hour during the game, most often in the form of carbohydrate gels. SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gels provide 22g of easily digested carbohydrates in a range of flavours and most midfielders will consume 2-3 gels per half. The Sydney Swans players like the easy to take consistency of the SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gels and seem to have a preference for the Tropical flavour! During the second half, some players will use caffeine to help lower the rating of perceived exhaustion and hence improve performance. The SiS GO Hydro + Caffeine can be used to hit both the hydration and caffeine requirements of a player.
The key nutritional priorities for recovery after an AFL game include – refuelling, repairing damaged muscle tissue and supporting the immune system during the post-game period when players are immunosuppressed and most susceptible to infection. For these reasons, I concoct my own ‘Recovery’ shake for the players using a combination of the SiS Whey Protein and REGO Recovery protein powders. Whilst the REGO Recovery has the carbohydrates for refueling, the Whey Protein has the higher BCAA content for muscle repair and regeneration. Depending on the time of day the game is played, I may also add a scoop of SiS Overnight Protein or the players may consume this as a separate shake later in the evening. In following-up on these ‘immediate’ recovery procedures, the team will often share a meal within 60mins consisting of tasty carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potato chips, roasted baby potatoes, street corn), lean proteins (e.g. burger patties, schnitzels, Shepherd’s pie) and vegetables (e.g potato salad, coleslaw, Greek salad). To support the immune system, players will often consume a SiS +Immune effervescent tablet in 500mL water within a few hours of finishing the game.