Tim's Food For Thought

LET me start by thanking you for all your emails so far. We've had responses from as far a field as Australia and as close to home as Romford, and please keep them coming in.

For the first in my regular features for the Club's Official Website we go behind the scenes of a home match at Upton Park and look at how we prepare the Hammers stars for a game at the Boleyn Ground.

For a regular 3.00pm kick-off the players are asked to report to Upton Park at 11.30am for a pre-match meal. Of course, the schedule and size of the pre-match meal will differ for the varying kick-off times we now encounter in professional football.

I usually arrive at the ground for about 8.00am to not only prepare the meal but also help to arrange the dressing room. On arrival I'm greeted by Raymond from the Club's Hospitality Department, who will have already collected all my food items that I need to prepare the pre-match meal.

We lay out a selection of foods for the players before a match, such as:
Selection of cereals and low-fat milk
Toasted white/brown bred with low-fat jams
Plain penne pasta with tomato and basil sauce
Baked beans
Scrambled eggs
Grilled or poached chicken breasts
Low-fat beef bolognaise
Water and Powerade

Tim with Physiotherapist Andy Walker

These are very simple foods, but they are vital for players to achieve the energy levels required to take them through the whole match. Drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after games is also very important. Players can de-hydrate during the game, which can lead to cramps and muscle fatigue.

The pre-match meal is deigned to be eaten three hours before kick-off, which allows time for the body to absorb and digest the extra carbohydrates and proteins that the players will need during the match.

Once the pre-match meal is cooked, and the players are hopefully enjoying it, I turn my attention to the dressing-room. Every matchday the players consume at least 60 bottles of water and up to six Powerade drinks each!

I also have browned bananas available to give the players a sugar boost during half-time. Over-ripe bananas contain more sugar than the standard ones you find in the supermarket. We also have a selection of Wine gums, Jelly-babies, Nutrigrain bars and Meusli bars if the players require some instant sugar.
At half-time I make sure the players have drinks waiting for them when they come in from the pitch, and we go through the same procedure at full-time, again so they can replenish and re-hydrate their bodies.

The players should eat a solid meal an hour after the game to replace the lost energy and weight. A typical player could lose up to three kilograms in one match and for the health and fitness of the player it's vitally important that they replace the lost weight immediately.

Most players, particularly those more experienced professionals, know how to manage and look after their own bodies. They understand the importance of treating their bodies well and follow strict regimes about diet and fitness.

However, it's important that we help the players get into an easier and efficient routine of diet and training, one that will hopefully serve them well throughout their professional careers.

Please email me with any questions relating to the West Ham United diet at [email protected]