Milk and fruit smoothies have carbs for refuelling, protein for repairing and are a source of fluid and electrolytes for rehydrating.

Eating appropriately after training is one of the most important parts of a junior footballer’s diet. After a big day of school, followed by training, their muscles are likely feeling tired! Although they may have focused on eating regularly throughout the day and before training, their muscle carbohydrate stores become depleted quiet quickly during activity. Refueling soon after training will help maintain their energy levels, help repair any muscle damage that may have occurred and support their immune system. This is very important if they have a game or training the next day.Skipping, delaying or skimping on this recovery meal will lead to hungry, tired and lethargic little footballers! You may be heading straight home from training and have something pre-prepared (more ideas on this here) or you may need to have a snack on hand to get the recovery process going before dinner.:

Whether it is a meal or snack, this recovery option should tick the boxes for the three R’s

  • Refuelling with carbohydrate foods
  • Repairing with protein foods
  • Rehydrating with fluids and electrolytes

Refuelling foods

  • Grain foods – breads, crumpets, bagels, crispbreads, rice cakes, cereals, pasta, noodles, rice, quinoa, semolina, barley, polenta, crisp bread and bulgarStarchy vegetables – potato, sweet potato and cornLegumes – e.g. baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils
  • Fruit – including tinned, frozen or fresh
  • Milk based dairy foods and soy alternatives – milk, yoghurt and custard

Repairing foods

  • Poultry – chicken or turkey mince, chicken tenderloins, roast chicken etc.
  • Red meat – steak, mice, lamb chops, burger patties etc.
  • Seafood – tinned or fresh fish, prawns etc.
  • Legumes – kidney beans, baked beans, lentils, chickpeas etc.
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Dairy foods and soy alternatives – cheese, milk, yoghurt and custard

Rehydrating fluids/foods

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Custard
  • Soup
  • 100% fruit juice

You can use the above image as a guide to balance out a perfect recovery meal making sure that there is enough carbohydrate & protein and plenty of veggies for good health. You can adapt this guide to any meal whether it be a risotto, stir-fry, sandwich, pasta or a meat and vegetable style of meal. Make sure you enjoy this recovery meal with some fluid!

The most important thing is having food available for this important time. In reality, its great to start refueling within 30 minutes of training. If you have fair distance to travel and dinner will be a couple of hours away, pack a recovery snack to keep hunger at bay and get the recovery process started. Some handy snacks have been covered below.

  • Small portion of flavoured milk (e.g. 200-400ml)Homemade muesli bars are generally lower in added fats and sugars and preservative freeTinned tuna with some wholegrain crackers or rice cakes.crackers
  • Firm cheese with some wholegrain crackers or rice cakes.crackers
  • Yoghurt and a piece of fruit (freeze the yoghurt before training so its ready to eat straight after)
  • Sandwich with cheese, ham, tuna, chicken, nut butter etc.
  • Muesli/nut bar with a piece of fruit
  • Handful of dried fruit and a nut and seed mix

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