Table 1

Nutritional Strategies when preparing to play from MD–2 to MD (until the last main meal before the match)

MD–2 and MD–1MD
Nutrition
goals
Assure players ingest enough carbohydrates (CHO), according to recommendations (6–8 g/kg/day), personal goals and individual tolerance.2 9
Ensure daily protein intake (~1.6 g/kg/day), regularly distributed along the day.22
Regular recommended fat intake should be kept (20%–35% of total daily calories, depending on individual goals), with a preference for unsaturated fats, rich in vitamins and EPA/DHA.19 113
Achieve vitamins and minerals daily recommended values, prioritising antioxidants rich fruits and vegetables.19
Rehydrate properly after training and assure adequate hydration throughout the day.
Regular fibre intake (adequate intake 25 g/day) should be kept.19
Like MD–2 and MD–1, fat and fibre intake could be reduced in the pre-match meal for gastric comfort.
Assure adequate hydration until the match.
Practical
strategies
Reinforce CHO options at every meal for better adhesion (offer more than one option, eg, rice and pasta, bread and oats). If players training load is monitored, assess CHO intake.
Offer protein-rich foods at breakfast (skyr and other high protein yoghurts, boiled or scrambled eggs, low-fat white cheeses) and snacks (tuna or chicken breast sandwich, milkshakes, protein bars/shakes).
Select lean protein sources packed with essential amino acids (low-fat dairy, eggs, fish and lean meats, rice with peas).
Offer Ω3 rich options: fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring), walnuts, flax seeds.
Avoid fried or panned foods and limit available fats in salad-dressing or sauces.
Include various fruits and veggies in every buffet, offering different coloured options (greens, yellows, reds, purples).
Include berries, broccoli and other antioxidant-rich foods.
Select mineral-rich foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, dried fruit, nuts and dairy products.
Monitor hydration status, if possible:
Measure Usg, using reagent sticks;
assess Ucol, using colour charts.
Evaluate climate conditions and establish hydration strategies:
Easy access to water sources in every moment (lockers, pitch, during travelling, hotel room, meals);
Individual bottles, so players can be aware of their intake;
Provide other hydration options, considering personal preferences of players (isotonic/sports drinks, tea or infusions, water-rich foods).
Regular fibre intake should be kept, including soluble (fruits, beans) and insoluble sources (dark bread, whole cereals).
Assess players individual gastrointestinal discomfort and adjust fibre intake if necessary.
Consider the use of prebiotics (inuline, psyllium, others previously tested with players).
Define appropriate timing for meals, depending on kick-off time and travelling.
Watch for players who might reduce CHO ingestion due to match-related anxiety or travelling impositions.
Maintain a wide variety of CHO options, preferring low fat/low fibre ones (sweet potato, white rice, pasta, porridge).
Reduce fibre intake, particularly insoluble sources (dark bread, whole cereals) in the meal before the match.
Offer easily digestible protein-rich foods (lean poultry, white fish, egg whites) as in previous days, avoiding large amounts on meal before the match (<0.4 g/kg).
Choose simple cooking methods (grilled, boiled).
Adapt hydration monitoring to MD conditions and maintain hydration strategies until arriving at the stadium.
  • EPA/DHA, eicosapentaenoic acid/docosahexaenoic acid; MD, match-day.