Healthy Eating Ideas from the Premier League
Burnley FC have been customers of ours for the last few years and so we were invited to their pre-season training camp by their first team Nutritionist, Elliot Frankland. Here’s what we learnt…
Back when Elliot graduated from his master’s course in sports nutrition, he was interested in working for a football club. Fortunately for him, his neighbour was the guy who valeted the player’s cars at Burnley and so he managed to get his foot in the door and hasn’t looked back since – it’s about who you know, right?!
Making bad food choices?
One of the biggest problems for Elliot is steering his players away from poor food choices during their daily commute. No different to you and me then I guess!
“It’s an awkward time with players spending between 40-60 minutes in the car after training and they struggle to make the right choices or they might have an afternoon appearance. Temptation is to pick up a brownie and not think about the number of calories…”
He encourages his players to be prepared. Chances are, they will be hungry on the way home and if they are they should have something healthy close to hand to help eliminate temptations.
It can be particularly difficult for players when they’re injured. Not only are they not burning off the calories, but there’s also an element of “comfort eating” that creeps into their routines. One of his players was having a particularly tough time coming back from an ACL knee injury.
“He struggled with weight gain, high body fat. We started from the ground up on re-educating him on choices and snacking was the big one where he struggled… we showed him simple and easy ways to prep, introducing him to the Wyldsson range. He’s now the lightest he’s been since his injury and body fat is continuing to come down”.
He scored 12 premier league goals last year, so it’s clearly been paying off!
What’s on the breakfast table?
Breakfast is prepared at the club each morning, and he encourages his players to “mix things up to keep it interesting”.
Popular options include omelettes, yogurt with some fresh berries and nuts and seeds etc. The biggest objection was when he removed bread from the breakfast buffet.
“the lads that were grumbling the most ran the highest scores they ever had in the morning session once Elliot had restructured their macro intake”
Wins like this help change attitudes.
Eat the Rainbow
One of the key messages that Elliot imparts to the players is to make the food on their plates “as colourful as possible”. If your plate is beige, you’re doing something wrong! Steering his players towards proper food choices is all part of the “Food first philosophy” which Elliot has been building at the club.
“I’m about developing a real food focus before a supplement culture takes place. Get your daily diet right first before you look at any supplements.”
Traveling with the team
Organising food options for away matches is a big challenge for every Premier League nutritionist and requires a huge amount of planning. Elliot prepares “travel packs” for each of his players, with a selection of small snack items such as our ProMix tubes, which are a staple of bus journeys.
One area where Elliot is a little more “hands off” is when it comes to pre-match meals. Some players can be somewhat superstitious about what they eat before a game, and so Elliot has learnt not to tinker with things too much. Instead, a buffet is prepared with a wide selection of options.
“Some have beans on toast pre-match and that’s fine”
One big change for this season is that Burnley have adapted their team bus to feature a small prep kitchen, so that they can prepare post-match meals. Elliot is very keen that his player’s eat a proper meal after matches. Sure, a Dominos will replace the calories they’ve burnt but it’s not just about replacing calories, it’s also about getting in sufficient protein, carbs as things vitamins, minerals etc. that will help the player’s recovery.
PS: Love these little healthy snacking pots – just mix some greek yogurt with our Hazelnut & Cocoa nut butter and add a teeny bit of honey if you like. The hotel chef added the cream and dark chocolate as his own little flourish, which Elliot hadn’t quite intended, but he admired his enthusiasm!!!!