Coaches: Are You Including Nutrition in Your Football Conditioning Program?

Football player playing on the field

Data driven and excellently executed, football conditioning programs are more efficient than ever before. We all know helping our athletes achieve their best is about more than just football conditioning drills, but have you thought about including nutrition in your football conditioning program? 

It’s important to maximize the effectiveness of each workout, especially for athletes who are working out two times a day. While athleticism may begin with raw strength, it requires more than muscle to ensure optimal power and endurance. 

The young athletes who look up to you expect a 360 degree approach to their football strength and conditioning program - and we want to give you the tools to do just that. Your football conditioning drills can be complemented with targeted nutrition to help your athletes excel at the game. 

What makes a great football conditioning program? 

A great football conditioning program combines effective football conditioning drills (such as sprint ladders, tempo runs, and four quarters drills) with adequate recovery time and targeted nutrition.

Without the right nutrition and recovery programs in place, it’s all too easy to see injuries during the football season, or even during your football strength and conditioning program. 

While we aren’t medical professionals or registered trainers, we are former Navy Seals with expertise in endurance athletics and producing top-quality sports nutrition products. We know a thing or two about proper nutrition for achieving peak performance. 

In addition to implementing stretching, sports massage, and compression clothing as needed, proper nutrition is your best bet for endurance and injury prevention. 

Let’s look into some simple nutritional tips you can give your players to help improve their performance on and off the field. 

How to include nutrition in your football conditioning program

One of the simplest, yet often overlooked, ways to take your team’s game to the next level is solid nutrition. A supplement plan can ensure your football players get the most out of their football conditioning program, and are able to maintain peak performance through all four quarters.

Here are our top supplement recommendations for ensuring your team’s nutrition is on track for the football season. 

Protein supplements

Protein is the building block of all muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Your athletes need ample protein to build muscle strength, and improve tendon elasticity and response time. 

While your athletes may already eat a lot of protein in their diet, it may not be benefiting them as much as they think. Protein in its whole form is difficult for the body to digest, and if you intake a lot of it at once, it simply passes through your digestive tract instead of being absorbed and utilized.

That’s where protein supplements come in. High-quality protein supplements have been manufactured in such a way that they are easier to digest and absorb into the bloodstream. This makes them faster-acting, and more beneficial than getting protein from diet alone. 

As such, it would be a good idea to get your football players on some sort of regular protein supplement to enhance their performance on the field. 

Fish oil

Whether you just started your football conditioning program, or are in the middle of your season, your athletes have surely taken a hard hit or two. Fish oil supplements can help the body to heal from injury by reducing swelling and inflammation.

Fish oil also helps to lubricate your athletes’ joints. Just like with collagen supplementation, reinforcing and enhancing joints makes them less prone to injury in the first place.

BCAAs

Branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs, are the building blocks of protein. Taking BCAAs before, during, or after a workout can help your football team synthesize protein more quickly, as they will actively have the building blocks in their bodies.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, which keeps your bones strong. This can be crucial for football players who are frequently taking hits on the field. No one wants to be benched with a broken bone, and a simple vitamin D supplement may help to prevent that. 

What’s more, vitamin D is also beneficial to your immune system, which will help your athletes avoid any unnecessary sick days. 

Vitamin C

An important biochemical note to consider for your high school football nutrition plan is that vitamin C and collagen work hand-in-hand because vitamin C is a cofactor for collagen synthesis. Fortunately, just 50mg of vitamin C should do the trick - and that amount is easy for athletes to add to their diets.

To help, here’s a handy list of ways to get 50mg of vitamin C, fast:

  • 4oz glass of orange juice

  • ½ cup of cooked broccoli

  • ⅓ red bell pepper (these beauties are MUCH richer in vitamin C than their green counterparts)

  • ⅓ of a papaya

  • 5 strawberries 

Now that you have an idea of some simple nutritional shifts your football players can make to protect themselves and enhance their game, it’s time to answer the all-important question: What is the best protein powder for young athletes? Is it whey protein, or collagen?

The best protein supplement for football players

When you look closely at collagen protein vs whey protein, it should become apparent that whey isn’t always the best for football players. 

Whey is derived from milk products, leaving lactose-intolerant athletes and others with sensitive stomachs with bloating and discomfort. Whey is also harder for the body to digest in general unless paired with special digestive enzymes. 

Collagen doesn’t suffer from the same drawbacks. Collagen is lactose-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free by definition, and it also is better at aiding recovery. 

Collagen has been shown to better affect the efficacy of resistance training among other performance boosts. Specifically, results for studies on collagen benefits for men are changing the game.

All-in-all, collagen supplements are more effective than just bulk-building whey protein. And here is why. 

Collagen may increase strength 

Collagen, a complex fibrous protein of amino acids, is naturally present all over the human body. It lends support and flexibility to bone, muscle, tendons, skin, blood vessels, and more. 

Collagen, bound together in a plaited chain, provides an elastic sort of strength. Gram for gram, a flexible bungee cord will withstand external forces better than concrete, which will crack under pressure.

It’s the same idea with collagen. 

Collagen fibers provide flexible and efficient strength that can be extremely beneficial to your athletes.

Collagen makes up to 10% of muscle mass, and that 10% supports load-bearing resistance. While the raw strength is largely dependent on the bulk proteins and muscle mass present, collagen buffers the pressure points that need it the most.

This can help support your line in pushing back their opponents, or assist your athletes in more safe and efficient tackles.

Collagen may improve power

Athletes require more than just strength. A good football player needs to be able to move quickly and efficiently on the field.

The key difference between strength and power is time. When the ball is snapped, the more powerful athlete will outplay their opponent, even if the max strength of the opponent is higher

Getting to peak performance quickly is how a lineman will break through to the quarterback, or a receiver will gain a step on their covering man.

All of the energy created in the muscles has to be transferred by tendons and ligaments, which serve as their skeletal connection points. 

Tendons, unlike muscles, don’t produce power by themselves and therefore are mostly structural pieces of the athlete's body. The ACL and other tendons are incredibly important in dynamic movement, and athletes need stable and reactive tendons to play efficiently on field.

A collagen supplement can help provide the tendons with strength and support since up to 80% of the dry weight of tendons is collagen protein.

Collagen may prevent injuries

High-intensity impact sports such as football can eventually take a toll on the body. Your football conditioning program should have already considered some of the most common sports injuries, including injuries that concern ligament tears or strains. 

As you train your players to take more hits, run faster, and push harder, this has a natural wear on the body. When the body becomes physically overexerted, risk of tendon injuries increase - especially when an athlete pushes themselves “too far” while at, or near, the end of their endurance levels. 

For your football conditioning program, we recommend acting preventatively regarding ligament injuries and damage, given the serious consequences that a tear or rupture has on a young athlete and the team at large. 

While injuries can happen on purely unlucky plays and from unforeseeable circumstances, collagen can help to mitigate the chance of injury

Considering all these potential benefits of collagen for your athletes, it would be good to learn how to include it in your own football conditioning program.

How to add collagen to your football conditioning program

If you want to add collagen to your football conditioning program, it works best as a pre-workout shot. This could be before football conditioning drills, or before a game. Taking the supplement in advance gives the body time to properly uptake and synthesize the amino acids during and post workout.

Not all of your athletes will need the same supplementation. For example, your Offensive Line may need a higher caloric intake in their dietary plan than your Running Back. That being said, 10-15g of collagen is generally considered an effective dose, taken 30-60 minutes before intense exercise and movement. 

But there’s always a very legitimate concern about the efficacy of supplements in sports medicine - as supplements are generally not regulated by the FDA, and not all of them are created equal. So how do you know which supplements you can trust for your team?

What collagen supplements are the best for athletes? 

The issue with many collagen supplements is the collagen molecule size. In its natural state, collagen is rather large, so your body can’t absorb all its valuable amino acids into the bloodstream. But this problem has a relatively simple solution - hydrolysis.  

Hydrolysis utilizes water and pressure to break down the collagen molecules into much more digestible components. That’s why you want to look for hydrolyzed collagen protein, also known as collagen peptides, when choosing a supplement for your football conditioning program.

Better yet, you can opt for nano-hydrolyzed collagen supplements like the ones from Frog Fuel. Nano-hydrolyzed collagen has gone through the process of hydrolysis more than once, making it extra bioavailable for your athletes.

For your football conditioning program, the easily absorbable amino acids in nano-hydrolyzed collagen protein will provide support to the active ligaments used in your football conditioning drills.

But Frog Fuel doesn’t stop there. It goes above and beyond your average protein supplement. Featuring citrulline malate and beta alanine amino acids, Frog Fuel really goes the extra mile to ensure your athletes have what they need to achieve peak performance. 

Citrulline malate benefits the body by providing increased oxygen levels to muscles and boosting endurance levels. Beta alanine benefits muscle recovery time by reducing lactic acid production and increasing endurance. 

Whether the main draw to include collagen protein supplements in your football conditioning program is for preventing injuries or refining powerful mechanical movements, you’ll be providing your athletes with the supplementation they need to operate on a high level through the whole season.

Made by athletes, for athletes, Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein is sure to become a swift and reliable addition to your football conditioning program. 


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