Lloyd Parker, who is working on his PhD by studying the nutritional needs of female soccer players, took on the job at the club five years ago. While the team had sought nutritional advice from a well known academic, that consultant was only on site one day a month. As a result, Parker said, the situation when he arrived was a shambles.
Parker gave an overview of the changes he made to the club’s approach during a presentation at the recent Sports Nutrition Summit 2020, which put on by NutraIngredients-USA last week in San Diego.
Nutrition at team was a shambles
“I had an idea in my head of what I thought it was going to be like and it was very different,” Parker said. Players were being fed tinned soups, pre cooked, packaged poached eggs, bagged snacks and so forth.
“So we had a big job on our hands and priority one was sorting the food out. That took about a season. Then we moved on to supplements and supplement protocols and how best to maximize performance,” he said.
Looking for changes during periods of heavy demand
Once he ensured the food being provided to players was high quality, Parker instituted a testing protocol to identify any nutritional deficiencies among players and track those over time. In particular he said the club is looking for changes from baseline during the Christmas period, a particularly packed part of the schedule when the club played 12 matches in 30 days. Depending on position and the tactical situation, players might typically cover from 8 to 12 kilometers a game. In decades past much of that distance might have been covered in a slow jog, but the modern game is played at a faster pace and requires more sprints and decelerations in that distance.
Parker showed one slide in his presentation with dozens of dietary ingredients the club is already using with players or which it is interested in. Those include vitamins and minerals, protein products, and polyphenol-based preparations to help manage the inflammation that comes with heavy periods of the schedule.
Sports Nutrition Summit USA 2021
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