When you need to know your energy balance as a footballer
Calories you burn in training and playing matches need to be in line with the calories you get from the food you intake. Monitoring your eating habits and training intensity (load) can help avoid unwanted weight loss or gain.
NO HIDING: Simple skin-fold tests can give quick feedback during pre-season testing.
At the start of the season players at pro clubs have a 'weigh-in'. If there's a major difference in what they weigh on returning from holiday and their end of season weight, they could be fined!
"IF YOU'RE NOT ASSESSING, YOU'RE GUESSING!"
The simplest things can seem complicated and get overlooked!
Here is an overview of how weight loss and weight gain works.
INDIVIDUALS: Players have different diet and energy needs depending on things like their size and metabolism.
How weight loss and weight gain works:
Every one of us burns calories while doing nothing - this is called a basal metabolic rate or BMR. The BMR is the amount of energy it takes our bodies to perform unconscious actions (without thinking), such as digestion.
You can calculate energy burned through exercise - this can be as simple as walking to the shops, playing five-a-side or a full match. Everything you do that takes some sort of effort, burns calories.
Finally, we must take into account the energy gained from eating food.
RESULTS: Data collected in training sessions and football matches is used to plan a player's physical & calorie needs.
Most professional football clubs use GPS devices in training and on match days [ particularly in pre-season ]. This produces data that when added to body fat measurements, hydration levels and heart rate allows a club to monitor player fitness accurately. This is useful to keep players on the pitch longer or return them to it quicker.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Using the 'Mifflin-St. Jeor' equation to estimate your BMR:
BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161
With the BMR established, you then need to consider how many calories are needed in relation to what you do in your normal day.
Daily Calorie Intake
The 'Harris-Benedict Formula' estimates daily calorific requirement:
Sedentary: (little or no exercise): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
Lightly Active: (light training/5-a-side game 1-3 days/week): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
Moderately Active: (moderate training/5-a-side 3-5 days a week): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
Very Active: (hard training x 2/ 5-a-side + 11 a-side match 6-7 days a week): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
Extra Active: (very hard training/5-a-side (x2) + 11 a-side match & physical job): Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
THE RETURN: Pre-season is tough for the pros. Having extra weight to lose can make it even harder.
Do the maths
With all these factors, we can come up with an equation:
Calories gained from food (BMR + calories burned from exercise) = weight loss or weight gained.
One pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories. Therefore, to lose one pound, you must burn 3500 extra calories, and to gain one pound, you must consume 3500 extra calories. Simple!
How this works in practice: A player has a BMR of 2200. With training and normal day to day living, he burns 2000 calories. Adding his BMR to calories burned equals 4200.
So if the player consumes less than 4200 calories, he could lose weight and vice-versa.
MAKE IT COUNT: Every inch and extra pound a player has is recorded by the club's performance staff.
Know Your Stuff!
This can play a big role in regards to football and physical performance. Although players are incredibly more athletic than yesteryear, weight gain in the form of muscle mass could still be a target for some. Weight loss too could be on the agenda for a player returning from the sidelines.
During the season, with the accumulation of training and games burning a lot of extra calories, it can be easy to lose weight and muscle as the season continues.
Ideally, players want to be at a good weight when entering a pre-season, and maintain their weight as the season progresses. The days of going on 4-week binges when the season finishes are a thing of the past in professional football.
With everything that's at stake in the modern game, a few extra pounds on the scales could cost you your place in the squad and lots of financial pounds in the pocket.
TIMEOUT: Injury means time on the sidelines. At this stage, calorie monitoring is needed to keep the recovery process on track.
It is essential to change your diet as activity levels change; this is especially relevant when out injured. Some football injuries are more severe than others and can totally immobilise players from doing anything (Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture, for example). Any surplus weight could increase the return time to playing.
Professional or not, knowing your BMR and daily calorie requirement will go a long way in managing whatever the season throws at you. Additionally, you will feel more confident, knowing that your body is in it's best shape ready to perform well.