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Are sweets good for the team?
Some players devour chocolate or sweets before and after a game, whilst others won’t touch the stuff. So what should you be telling your players? We bust a few myths in this nutritional guide…
To help restore energy after practice or games, it’s fine to let players have boiled sweets and chews. These sweets are high in carbohydrates but don’t contain much fat.
Of course, they’re not the only way to take on carbohydrates and you should still eat a balanced post-match meal. Having wholegrain bread or baked potato plus vegetables (especially energy-dense root veg or those grown above the ground such as broccoli) is ideal, because they have a high level of nutrients.
However, sweets provide an immediate solution if a main meal is likely to be a long way off.
CHOCOLATE HIGHS AND LOWS
Many people find chocolate tempting, because it stimulates the body to release endorphins. It has lots of carbohydrates and in terms of athletic outcomes it’s okay to indulge in a little, but recognise that it’s full of fat and sugar.
Chocolate does provide instant energy, but not sustained energy. So though having a bar just before exercise won’t hurt you, it isn’t advisable. The energy almost instantly dissipates and leads to a “sugar crash”.
THE REAL THING
“Real” (not processed) foods release their energy gradually. This has a dual effect. First, you receive a steady flow of energy and second, the slow release doesn’t send adverse signals to your brain about your levels of hunger.
So to top up your carbohydrate stores ahead of a session, it’s better to have fresh fruit (like bananas) or low-fat yoghurt.
Sweets and chocolate should be consumed sparingly.
THE ROLE OF PROTEIN
Studies in America have shown that chocolate milk is beneficial for recovery. Results showed that a group of cyclists could cycle further – and quicker – if they drank chocolate as opposed to other more regular replacement fluids.
Not only does this replace lost energy, but mixing chocolate with protein from the milk speeds up that recovery.
Protein is important in recovery because it kick-starts the muscle-building processes. You should consume small amounts of protein regularly during the day (nuts and milk are easy sources) and at least 20g of protein after training – equivalent to a chicken breast.
Some sports nutritionists also recommend Jaffa Cakes after exercise because they’re low in fat.