With 16 AFL seasons under her belt, including 3 premierships at Hawthorn AFL Football Club, Advanced Sports Dietitian, Simone Austin, knows what to eat to win.
AFL is a long, gruelling game. Maintaining energy levels for 25-30 minute quarters and pre-season training can be challenging. It is important players fuel their body with nourishing foods in order to get the most out of training, and to sustain energy levels throughout the season. Nutrition is individual, so quantity will vary (but quality is key!).
So, what foods do AFL players need?
AFL and many aerobic sports require adequate energy from start to finish, therefore fuelling with high quality carbohydrates is important. As a rough guide, a third of your plate should be carbohydrates foods, such as wholegrain bread, pasta, brown rice, oats, potatoes, barley, corn, fruit. The amount will vary with energy needs – for example on a non training or light training day may include only a ‘fist full’ of carbohydrate.
Protein keeps an AFL player’s body in good working condition, by promoting growth, repair and maintenance of muscles and cells, and supporting immune system function. It is best to spread intake throughout the day, by including some at each meal. Kick-start your day with yoghurt, milk, cheese, baked beans, tuna or eggs.
After a training session AFL players need a hearty meal. Look for a meal that has high quality carbohydrate and a protein source, and plenty of veggies. Vegetables keep your antioxidant, vitamin and mineral intake up, assisting recovery, general health and preventing illness. Some popular post training meals include:
Chili con carne & salad
Spaghetti bolognaise & salad
Curry with brown rice & green vegetables (e.g beans, broccoli)
Grilled fish, sweet potato and salad
Quality snacking is important too:
Fresh fruit and nuts
Yoghurt, with oats and berries
Staying hydrated helps limit fatigue and maintain concentration. Water is generally enough for both training and games. Sometimes an oral rehydration fluid might be useful or a sports drink if electrolytes and sugar is needed for energy. However, water with old fashioned half time oranges or bananas can top up energy levels and provide some electrolytes.
Check out the nutrition for AFL fact sheet for more information or for personalised advice on healthy eating and nutrition for sport, visit the ‘Find an Accredited Practising Dietitian’ at daa.asn.au/find-an-APD/.