If you’ve been resting all summer, pre-season football conditioning can be absolute torture. Luckily, there are some simple nutritional shifts you can make to ensure that your football conditioning program and season go as smoothly as possible.
Nutrition plays a major role in the function of your body, especially when you are an athlete. You want to provide your body with the best fuel to ensure your muscles and connective tissues are strong, agile, and protected from injury - and diet can help with all of that.
If you want to get through the grueling football conditioning drills, you need to be armed with the knowledge of the best nutrition for high school football players. And that’s where we are here to help.
As former Navy SEALs, and avid Spartan Race competitors, we know a thing or two about what it takes to achieve peak performance.
If you want to reach your body’s maximum potential during football conditioning, then it’s important to practice proper food habits. So let’s discuss the most important habits you can start, right now, that will bolster you through your season.
4 food habits to help you make the most of football conditioning
If you want to know how to get through football conditioning with ease, then here are our top four nutritional tips:
1. Fuel your body in advance
Your body is always a work in progress. It builds itself, step by step, using the tools and supplies available to it each day. The better you treat your body, the better it can treat you.
If you want to have the body of a pro-athlete, you need to have a healthy adult body first. So, if you’re not there right now, that’s the first step!
A well-fuelled body not only feels better, but can help prevent bigger health issues. The players that try to push through their football conditioning drills without properly caring for their bodies will burn out fast. As they say, “If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.”
So how can you prepare your body for how to get through football conditioning?
You should properly hydrate and fuel your body at least one month in advance.
Just like you need to warm up your muscles before two-a-days, your digestive tract needs to acclimate to the nutritional demands of the upcoming football season. That’s why nutrition for high school football players starts long before conditioning begins.
Your body will be working extra hard to extract all the calories and minerals from your football season diet in order to power up your musculoskeletal system.
How do you acclimate?
You should start by adding a beverage to every meal, as well as hydrating before, during, and after exercise.
You can also practice gulping your liquids instead of sipping them. Once football conditioning starts, you’ll be intaking heavy quantities of liquid in a short period of time, and this will ensure you are amply (and comfortably) hydrated.
Hydration isn’t the only important part of your pre-conditioning nutrition. You also need to eat regularly.
Skipping meals can compromise your ability to make plays when the time comes. It’s important to get three balanced meals, plus high-quality pre- and post-exercise snacks for maximum nutritional intake.
Getting started on hydration and nutrition at least a month before conditioning begins will ensure your body is ready for any drill that is thrown your way. But what should you be eating, exactly?
Which food group gives you endurance? Which food group energizes your tackles?
Let’s break down the best high school football nutrition plan so you can fuel your body for success.
2. Don’t cut carbs
Though cutting carbs may be “in-fashion,” you’ll get run over on the football field if you follow the trend. Carbs are not your enemy on the field - they are your friend.
Football is a highly intense game that requires sudden bursts of high-impact energy, which carbs are essential for. Because of this, you should eat 3-12 grams of carbohydrates per kg of body weight. That will make up around 55-60% of your caloric intake each day.
Upping the amount of carbs in your diet will provide you with more available energy for practices and games. It really is the key for making it through your football conditioning program and two-a-days.
Getting the most from your carbs
The healthiest carbs for your body are the ones that are closest to their natural stage. We’re talking vegetables, fruit, pulses, legumes, unsweetened dairy products and 100% whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, wheat, and oats.
These complex carbs contain varying amounts of fiber, which provide better nutrition and energy stockpiling.
The carbs you should avoid are the processed and refined ones. You’ll find these carbs in desserts, sugary beverages, condiments, sweetened dairy products and white grains like pasta, bread, and rice. These carbs have limited effectiveness and come off second best as an energy fuel.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid them altogether, you just need to aim for more complex carbs in your diet. The same goes for fats. Fats are not the enemy, you just have to select the fats that are healthiest.
3. Choose the right fats
“Fats” may sound unhealthy, but they are an important part of any high school football nutrition plan. In fact, fats should make up about 30% of an athlete’s diet. The key is selecting the right kinds of fat.
Some good fats are found in avocados, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, chia seeds, peanut butter, vegetable oils, and yogurt.
Why are these fats important?
While carbohydrates are quickly digested and converted to energy through respiration, fats are stored energy. Of course, it’s great to have stored energy on hand, but if you’re not using it, then it’s just adding weight to your frame.
Keep this in mind regardless of your position on the field. Get your fitness in first, then if you’re looking to put on weight to break tackles, do that closer to the season start. You will be able to practice more efficiently at lower body weight to discipline your muscle groups.
Once that muscle fitness is there, you can add weight where necessary, depending on your position. Therefore, as the season draws nearer, you may want to add more fats to your diet. Ask your coach for an idealized weight goal based on your height and playing position.
With your carb and fat intake under control, it’s time to focus on protein. While energy comes from carbs and fat, you get your strength, power, and endurance from protein.
4. Prioritize your proteins
Protein provides structure and form to your muscles, tendons, skin, organs, blood vessels, and more. If you want to build muscle and ensure healthy connective tissues, protein is paramount in your diet.
But how much protein should you eat each day, and what is the best protein powder for young athletes?
Generally speaking, about 15% of your caloric intake per day should be protein. Getting the right amount of protein into your nutrition is crucial for athletes, and a good starting point is understanding what different proteins do for you.
While it’s great to get protein from fish and meat, you might not be getting adequate amounts. It’s also hard to have a meat-filled snack on the field or in the gym. That’s where protein supplements come in.
If you’re trying to find the best protein powder for young athletes, you’ve probably seen a few debates about collagen protein vs whey, but which one actually comes out on top?
Collagen vs whey
Both whey and collagen protein can be useful, but they do different jobs once synthesized in your bloodstream.
Whey protein is great when working on brute muscle strength, it may not be the best protein for overall health and endurance. When you apply pure strength on the football field, it may help you beat an opposing lineman, but it also won’t be the most efficient.
You should focus on power instead of strength.
Power is how efficient you can be with the strength you possess, and for that, collagen is even better.
There are also some additional cons of whey protein. If you are lactose-intolerant, whey protein will be very uncomfortable to digest, as it is made from dairy. This is one of the reasons whey protein can cause an upset stomach.
Luckily, collagen is lactose free, so you don’t need to worry about uncomfortable bloating during practice.
There are so many collagen benefits for men, and those go beyond strength and easy digestibility. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body - for example, 80% of the dry weight of your tendons is collagen.
Tendons and ligaments serve as the connection points between your muscles and bones, and keeping them healthy is necessary for your agility. The mechanical forces passing through these connection points need to be as efficient as possible for a powerful burst of speed or change of pace.
The greater the quality of the collagen proteins in your ligaments, the more efficient the transfer of strength through the musculoskeletal system will be.
But collagen doesn’t just help with agility and power. It also helps with healing and protection.
Take collagen for injury prevention
During your football conditioning program, the fibrous proteins in your tendons and ligaments are under constant stress. That’s why you’re sore after football conditioning. You may not be injured, but your body is healing regardless.
The most common football injuries are at the ligament level, like ACL and MCL sprains, rather than muscle tears. The best defense for tendon injuries may just be providing your body with a natural supply of collagen to build tendon fibers from.
If your tendon isn’t replenishing itself with collagen effectively during football conditioning, you’re more likely to add a higher force than the tendon can withstand. When that happens, the risk of a severe injury increases, and tendon sprains or tears can put you out for the entire season.
When it comes to peak physical performance, it’s all about supporting your body with what it needs before it’s too late. With so much on the line, it’s best to be proactive about the health of your tendons and ligaments.
Having a ready-for-action supply of collagen protein in your body will reinforce your connective tissues, reducing the risk of harm during football conditioning or game days. That being said, not all collagen supplements are created equal, so it’s important to look for high-quality collagen protein like Frog Fuel.
Frog Fuel: the game changer for your football season
If you want the highest quality protein supplement made by athletes, for athletes, then you want Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein.
Frog Fuel collagen peptides have been nano-hydrolyzed for easy absorption. In fact, we take our protein absorption rates so seriously that we’ve created a product that can be fully absorbed and utilized by your body in just 15 minutes.
If you take a shot of our liquid collagen protein 30-60 minutes before football conditioning or games, your body will be well prepared to take on the day. And, because it’s in a convenient single-serve pouch, you can take your supplement on the go without worrying about mixing or measuring it.
Just pop your supplement back before your workout, and it will soon enter your bloodstream and be available for the muscles and ligaments that need it.
That’s a game changer.
It means you’ll be going into the football conditioning program with protein reserves ready to replenish muscles and tendons as you go through the drills. Each shot contains 15g of collagen protein that your body can quickly put to use where necessary because it’s so easy to digest.
We’ve even added amino acids to make your supplement a complete protein, as well as beta-alanine and citrulline malate to improve your power and stamina on the field.
With competition growing fiercer, having a high-quality collagen supplement up your sleeve could just be the edge you need to beat the odds.
Of course, collagen alone isn’t the answer. Make sure to pair your collagen supplement with a balanced diet and ample hydration, and you’ll be set to dominate out there on the first day of football conditioning.