Bulk and balance: Things to consider for your football player's diet

By Jenny Jones | Posted 7/30/2018

By 2011, thirteen of the top 25 college football programs employed full-time Registered Dietitians, in some cases spending as much as $1 million a year on prepared meals for athletes.

This might seem excessive to some. But, the reason coaches feel that dietitians are so important to the sport is that while football is played only seasonally, nutrition and diet is a year-round commitment for those who are serious about the game.

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If you're a football player who is not lucky enough to have a dietitian who's coaching you and your team on nutrition, there are some simple rules to follow to ensure your body is at its best and ready, come game time.

Looking to lose weight

If you're in a position that requires you to stay lean, such as a quarterback or running back, and you need to shed a few pounds, one option is a calorie deficit, which essentially means you are burning more calories than you are taking in. You can accomplish this by monitoring and recording your caloric intake.

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Luckily, you can do this quickly and easily with one of the many fitness apps that are on the market. Or, try imitating the diet of one of the many all-star quarterbacks in the industry, such as Tom Brady, whose diet consists of lots of liquids and things like avoiding eating his protein with starchy foods like potatoes or bread.

Bulking up

Playing in a position like linebacker means you're going to need to be big and strong to fight off the other team. While some players have turned to unhealthy and quick options, like steroids, there are better, and safer, ways to bulk up. In addition to adding more weightlifting to your exercise plan, you should be eating three meals a day, plus protein-heavy snacks before and after workouts.

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Try following the diet routines of your favorite linebackers and other NFL players, such as a diet that's rich in amino acids from proteins. Science actually suggests that athletes such as linebackers should consume between 0.5 and 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight on days they work out. The proteins they're consuming should come from sources that also offer all eight essential amino acids, such as beef, poultry and fish. This will help you to build solid muscle in a healthy way.

Finding a balance

The most important aspect to consider when forming any fitness and nutrition regimen is to find a balance that works for you. Regardless of what position you play, you will need to create a diet that consists of complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins. However, everyone's bodies differ, so what might work great for your teammate might not be your ideal plan.

The best advice when it comes to finding out what will be right for you, nutritionally speaking, will come from a Registered Dietitian. Seek out local experts in the field of nutrition and exercise, and discuss your fitness, football, and health goals with them. Together, you can craft a healthy diet and exercise plan that is best suited to your body's needs.