Even if it surprises you, the World Cup diet should not be very different from anyone else who wants to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Basically, this translates into a service of four daily meals: breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. These meals will be based on cereals (pasta, rice, etc.), preferably whole grains, and legumes accompanied by fish and low-fat meats.
It should be noted, however, that this eating plan varies in the quantities –not in the ingredients– according to the physical activity and the position that each player plays in the team. The goalkeeper does not make the same effort as the midfielder and, therefore, his energy needs are very different.
Also, let’s not forget that they are subject to the discipline of their clubs. These should mark personalized guidelines for their players in line with the sports development of the competitive season, especially with regard to the possible supplementation of their daily diet.
Secondly, as is always the case in this type of competition, the menus have to be adjusted to the travel plans, since the availability of food is not the same in all countries. It goes without saying that in Qatar the presence of pork is ruled out.
So far everything seems simple and most obvious, although in practice it is a little more complicated. The reasons are logical. On the one hand, it is necessary to ensure that the footballers receive the necessary food to be able to perform at 100% on the pitch. And on the other, that the continuous days of concentration in the hotels or residences during the competition do not give rise to a boring and repetitive diet.
The climate factor
In the specific case of Qatar, another typical variable of world championships cannot be lost sight of: the weather, which exerts an important influence on the athlete’s physical response.
For this reason, the decision to hold the World Cup in this area of the Middle East caused quite a stir among experts in exercise physiology, although the controversy was somewhat softened with the change in dates. The summer of other countries, the usual time to celebrate this sporting event, tends to be quite similar to the December weather in Qatar.
What we must not forget is that many teams come in these days of cold latitudes and that reaching a summer suddenly can mean a reduction in their abilities. Let’s remember that the last World Cup in Brazil was not as satisfactory as many would have wanted. Acclimatization proved a puzzle for many teams, which were assigned staging areas with different climates.
The most important thing: that the players are hydrated
In Qatar, where temperatures exceed 30ºC during the hours of sports practice, players are required to carry out an activity limited to about two hours on successive days. Because, in these conditions, it is absolutely essential to avoid the dreaded dehydration, which reduces the physical and mental capacity of the players.
But staying hydrated is not just about drinking a certain amount of liquid: a large part of the water we ingest comes from food, especially fruits and vegetables.
With this in mind, the culinary star must be an extensive salad bar. These should contain a wide variety of raw and lightly cooked vegetables, accompanied by fresh and dried fruits, pasta, rice, legumes, assorted seeds, and marinated or smoked fish with light seasonings, vegetable protein such as tofu, and eggs.
The idea is that these salads are complete and nutritious, with a constant variation in the ingredients that allow a balanced diet and avoid falling into monotony and gastronomic boredom.
Before jumping onto the grass
Perhaps the reader will wonder what internationals put in their mouths on match day. The answer is a light and easily digestible meal, high in carbohydrates to ensure energy production. In addition, it will include a sufficient protein intake, to protect your muscular system from possible damage from physical exertion, and a small amount of fat, but of high nutritional quality.
All this, together with a good intake of liquids that maintains the perfect hydration of the athletes and the consequent rest, can form the perfect dietary team to go far in the World Cup.