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Elise Cameron

Sydney Swans Dietitian

Fuelling For Game Day

A 24-hour pre-game and game-day insight into fuelling a Swans running midfielder

GAME DAY -1

The day prior to the game, the midfielders increase their carbohydrate intake to ‘carbohydrate loading’ levels. They achieve this by consuming 8-10g of carbohydrate for every kilogram of bodyweight over the course of the day. Ideally, they are consuming a meal or snack every two hours to meet these increased requirements. Up to twenty-four hours pre-game, the carbohydrates consumed are of low to moderate glycaemic index. After this they switch almost exclusively to high glycaemic index carbohydrates. Body size in the midfield can vary, though most midfielders are around 80-85kg which equates to 640-850g of carbohydrate over the 24-hour pre-game period. The example meal plan below shows an average midfielders intake the day before a game.

Time Of MealFood SourceCarb Quantity (g)
Breakfast6-8 Weet-Bix with low fat milk, 1 medium sliced banana, 1 tbs. honey & large glass fruit juice160g
Morning Snack2 slices raisin toast with low fat ricotta cheese, 1 banana sliced & regular t/a coffee107g
Lunch2 sandwiches with poached chicken breast, avocado & salad & piece of fruit 85g
Early Afternoon SnackCheese & tomato toasted sandwich & coffee50g
Late Afternoon SnackSlice banana bread & Milo on low fat milk102g
DinnerLasagne, 1-2 slices garlic bread, sweet potato mash & steamed vegetables 281g
DessertApple crumble and low fat vanilla custard92g

PRE-GAME MEAL…

The goal of the pre-game meal is to top-up carbohydrate stores without leaving the player feeling heavy or too full in the stomach. It also often doubles as a pre-game meeting time so supply of glucose to the brain for concentration is also paramount! The pre-game meal is consumed at least three hours prior to the first bounce to allow full digestion and prevent any gastrointestinal upset during the match. This meal for most running midfielders consists of high GI carbohydrates such as white rice, white bread or pasta, as well as, lean protein such as chicken. Some examples of pre-game meals include – pumpkin risotto, pasta with chicken in red sauce, teriyaki chicken and white rice, poached chicken and avocado white bread sandwich, white toast with low fat ricotta cheese, sliced banana & honey.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 26:  Lance Franklin of the Swans celebrates kicking a goal with team mates  during the round one AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Collingwood Magpies at Sydney Cricket Ground on March 26, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images/AFL Media)

IN-GAME NUTRITION

Even the lean and athletic bodies of the running midfielders can only store enough carbohydrate to fuel around 90 minutes of game time, which means energy stores will be running low by three-quarter time if no additional carbohydrates are taken on board during the first three-quarters. Given that the players have at least another 25 minutes of high intensity, repeated sprint efforts to maintain it is critical that additional carbohydrates are consumed. Most running midfielders will consume in the range of 60-80g of carbohydrate per hour during the game, most often in the form of carbohydrate gels. SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gels provide 22g of easily digested carbohydrates in a range of flavours and most midfielders will consume 2-3 gels per half. The Sydney Swans players like the easy to take consistency of the SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gels and seem to have a preference for the Tropical flavour! During the second half, some players will use caffeine to help lower the rating of perceived exhaustion and hence improve performance. The SiS GO Hydro + Caffeine can be used to hit both the hydration and caffeine requirements of a player.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 12: Jarrad McVeigh of and Kieren Jack of the Swans lead their team out during the round 12 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Sydney Swans at Spotless Stadium on June 12, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images/AFL Media)

POST-GAME RECOVERY

The key nutritional priorities for recovery after an AFL game include – refuelling, repairing damaged muscle tissue and supporting the immune system during the post-game period when players are immunosuppressed and most susceptible to infection. For these reasons, I concoct my own ‘Recovery’ shake for the players using a combination of the SiS Whey Protein and REGO Recovery protein powders. Whilst the REGO Recovery has the carbohydrates for refueling, the Whey Protein has the higher BCAA content for muscle repair and regeneration. Depending on the time of day the game is played, I may also add a scoop of SiS Overnight Protein or the players may consume this as a separate shake later in the evening. In following-up on these ‘immediate’ recovery procedures, the team will often share a meal within 60mins consisting of tasty carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potato chips, roasted baby potatoes, street corn), lean proteins (e.g. burger patties, schnitzels, Shepherd’s pie) and vegetables (e.g potato salad, coleslaw, Greek salad). To support the immune system, players will often consume a SiS +Immune effervescent tablet in 500mL water within a few hours of finishing the game.


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