Girls FC feature: Nutrition Tuition!

A question that all sports people have to know the answers to: What’s best to eat pre and post match?

Girls FC has had lots of questions over the past few weeks around what to eat pre and post match and while training. We got in-touch with Melbourne Victory-s Snez Veljanovska who not only is a Striker for the Westfield W-League team, the 23 year old will this year graduate from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor Degree in Nutrition.

To kick us off, we thought it best to tackle pre-match food first. Snez gave us her view on what we should consume before a game and when.

Before a game it's very important the right foods are consumed to allow any athlete to perform to the best of their ability. Each individual knows what food works best for their body, but as a general rule the best foods are carbohydrates, ‘carbs-. Carbs are the first source of energy that the body uses before it starts using anything else like proteins or fats.

You can have lower GI foods well before competition that are slowly released and digested through the body so when competition time comes; you have a constant source of energy. 3-4 hours before game have some pasta, rice or a sandwich.

Having a high carbohydrate meal the night before will also help give your body the energy it needs to perform. This is known as carbohydrate loading.

It is also important to eat again before a game about 1-2 hours prior, this meal can just be something little like a muesli bar, yoghurt or fruit. Don-t eat anything too complex, keep it simple.

What you eat does depend on the individual as everyone can handle certain foods differently. What works for one person may not work for another. Try eating a variety of foods to work out what helps you perform at your best.

I've been around people who have a food routine where they will only eat something basic before a game, and others who will eat just about anything they can.

I believe an ideal pre-match meal is simple pasta with a basic tomato based sauce. Eat just enough to make you feel good. I like to have fruit, a muesli bar and a few lollies as well.

How much water should I try and have during a match so that I remain hydrated...? Would you recommend sports drinks?

The key word here is DURING!! Most people don't realise how much fluid they lose during a match. They tend to drink plenty before a comp and less after however it-s just as important to consume fluids post as pre.

Some people weigh themselves on the scales before and after competition so it is easier to tell how much fluid they have lost, each kilogram of fluid lost is equivalent to 1 litre of fluid. As a guideline each athlete should aim to drink at least 2 litres prior (more if it is warmer weather) and depending on fluid loss during comp, if a person loses 1 kg during comp then drink a further litre post comp.

Also try to drink fluids during a match, wherever and whenever possible. It-s important not to let yourself get to the thirsty stage as thirst tends to tell us we are dehydrated.

Sports drinks are important as they give us energy in the form of Carbohydrates while hydrating at the same time. They are more so recommended during competition rather than before as you can get your energy from the foods you've consumed prior to the match. Sports drinks release quickly into the body so they provides a quick and easy source of energy at the times we need it most during the match to keep us going.

What-s the best food to have after a game or training session?

After a game/training session the recovery and re-fuelling stage is very important so your body can adapt to what you have just done, to become fitter, stronger, faster and better. Refueling carbohydrate stores that have been lost, replacing fluids and electrolytes and also making new protein, blood cells and other aspects of repair are important.

This is where people can focus on the whole aspect of nutrition meaning having carbs, protein and a little fat together. The best time to eat is within the first 30 minutes post a session/game so a snack will keep you going till you have your main meal.

Your main meal can be a baked potato, cooked lean beef, chicken or pork and a side salad (maybe add some nuts) or grilled/steamed vegetables and a glass of juice and water.

If this isn-t possible then a rich source of carbs and protein is good. Even cereal can do the trick as it can also supply the body with iron. It-s far more beneficial then heading to the nearest fast-food outlet.

Would you like to add anything else Snezzy?

Food is your fuel so making sure you are consuming what you need for your sport is very important. This doesn't mean you cannot include your favourite “sometimes food” that may not have so many nutritional benefits. Just make sure you consume treats in moderation, and at times when they won-t affect preparation for training or a match.

How have you been able to apply the knowledge you have acquired through your degree in your own training?

Throughout my degree I've learnt many things that I have been able to use and also to help other team mates and athletes with their training. I have understood exactly how the body best uses its energy which has helped me understand the way food works with training. A major aspect I can take away is the way my food affects my training, it is good to know how certain ways of training uses certain pathways of the food system to help adapt to what I'm doing.

You-re amazingly fit do you put this down to what you consume?

Not only to what I consume, but I do think it plays a major role. What I consume allows me to do what I do and helps me keep up with all my commitments and overall keeps me healthy. I think that without consuming the foods that work best for me it would be difficult for me to do all the things I set out to achieve. I think my nutrition plays a major role, but it works best alongside my recovery so I put those 2 aspects together and feel they work the best.

Thanks for your time Snez and best of luck with the rest of your season down there in Melbourne.