We are in the midst of World Cup fever at present, with Soccer being played in Brazil, where Australia put in a great effort, and the Australian Men’s Hockey team winning gold, the Women winning silver in the recent Hockey World Cup. So what better time to investigate some of the delicious cuisines that come from participating countries, along with some sports nutrition advice for those playing team sports.
What does a soccer player need to focus on food wise in the lead up to a big game?
Soccer players must be fast, agile and have high level ball handling skills. The game is characterized by bursts of high intensity activity, followed by times of much lower speed/intensity activity. Elite players may run 10-11km during a match mostly at high intensity, with more than 1km of this being sprinting. Thus, the carbohydrate stores found in the muscles, known as glycogen may well be depleted. This makes it important to have a high quality, carbohydrate based meal 2-4 hours prior to the game, for example pasta, rice or sandwiches, or the recipe below! As the game gets closer, it is a good idea to have a final ‘top up’, whether this is a banana, a slice of toast with jam, or maybe even a sports drink. Further to this, ensuring adequate hydration is achieved is essential to performing well, which can be done through consumption of fluids such as water, or electrolyte drinks in the days leading up to the game. Also getting a good night's rest the night before a game is also very important!
This week, we will start with Brazil, being the nation that is hosting the Soccer (or football as many call it). Our delightful massage therapist Vanessa Ogata originates from Sao Paulo, so I asked her for a traditional recipe she would make:
Chicken with okra and angu (Frango com quiabo e angu)
1kg whole chicken
1 cup of lime juice
1 tbs of garlic with salt
1 tbp of urucum
2 tbs of oil
black pepper and water
Wash the chicken and cut into pieces.
Bring the chicken pieces to the boil with water and lime juice. After cooked, reserve it.
In another pan, heat the oil with the garlic and salt. When the mixture is golden, add the chicken. Let the chicken fry lightly before you can put the urucum.
Slowly put water on it.
Put the parsley and the full onions. Put the lid on. Check seasoning.
Wash and dry the okra without the stems and cut in slices. Put with the chicken. Don’t stir and keep the lid on. When the okra is soft turn the heat off.
Angu is a simple Brazilian side dish made of cooked cornmeal, similar to polenta. Angu is traditionally prepared rather plainly with only cornmeal, water and maybe some salt for flavoring.
Urucum: a natural, seed-derived coloring agent but which is better known in North America as either achiote or annatto. Urucum is added to soups, stews, and other dishes when the cook desires the red-orange color it imparts, but does not want to add an additional flavor to the dish.
What are your strategies for eating before a big game?
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health. This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues