Life as an AFL player is busy. Recovery sessions, meetings, video watching, physio, massage, dietitian, player appearances, sleep monitoring, training just to name a few and then a game all in one week before it all repeats. A player needs to be organised, otherwise nutrition just falls by the way side.
Bradley Hill impressed me with his meal preparation, so I asked him to share a little
about how he fuels himself and prepares as an elite athlete. The key has been planning ahead, a strategy that can be used by anyone to help make eating well, easier.
As you can see Bradley prepares many of his evening meals all in one go, dishing them up into containers that he can store in the freezer and fridge ready for when he gets home tired after a day at the club. You might question the lack of variety as the pictures show the same meal repeated. By the time you have done this for a few weeks, focusing on a different meal each week variety happens in your stock in the freezer that you rotate through. Eating the same meal five days in a row and then a different meal the next week, he is getting variety over the weeks, rather than days and that is actually ok. He also gets variety from the other meals and snacks throughout the day. On days where he has time he will also prepare a fresh meal and as you can see they look pretty good!
What to include
There is something missing from Bradley’s containers, let’s see what it is. When planning the content look for:
·Protein source- red or white meat e.g. turkey, chicken, pork, beef, lamb, kangaroo or fish or legumes or lentils or eggs. This for Bradley should be around 1/3rd of the volume of his meal and for less active people it might be a little less around ¼. Everyone will be quite individual on their requirements.
·Vegetables or salad- around half of the volume should be vegetables or salad and a variety of colours to give a range of vitamins and minerals.
·Carbohydrate- for Bradley this will be between 1/3rd to ¼ of the volume of the meal depending on his training and what else he has had for the day. Depending on your own energy level. Bradley has left this out, he cooks this part fresh rather than freezing it. He varies for example between rice, pasta, noodles, corn, potato. You could cook some of this in advance if it suited you and freeze it. He would need to get bigger containers! He can also vary the amount depending on how hungry he is and his energy levels.
By cooking most of the food in one go there is less chance of wastage from vegetables left in the fridge that are forgotten and left rotting. They are also cooked while still fresh to help retain the nutrients.
Time saving -efficient
· It is time and energy efficient to shop in one go and then top up on bread, milk, fruit for example during the week.
·Write a list and keep it on your phone or in your bag. Somewhere where it can be added to and accessed. This will save return trips to the shop due to forgetting.
·Don’t shop when hungry! You focus on less nutritious foods then.
·Choose a time and make this an appointment with yourself.
·Preparing numerous meals at once saves preparation and cleaning up time. It doesn’t take much longer to cook for 5 nights worth than one.
·Get others in the household to help. Many hands make light work.
·Throw a few of the vegetables and some lentils together and make a soup for lunches during the week. Bonus saver!
When we eat well we are likely to feel well. Choosing nutritious foods physically makes us feel healthy and with energy and also mentally. The planning allows more mental capacity to focus on other things as the nutrition has been taken care of mostly in one go. He knows he can come home to a meal rather than dreading the supermarket shop and cook up when he is physically and mentally tired and less likely to do it.
Bradley is proud of his preparation, he goes into a game and training knowing that he has done all he can to fuel his body.
It can be as simple or as fancy as you like, flavours, herbs, spices to tantalise your own taste buds.
Simone likes to share her expert nutrition advice. Read more