Introduction

The off-season provides a time to recover and relax from the stress and workload of the season, as well as an opportunity to improve your physical condition to be in shape for pre-season. Implementing good nutritional practices is essential during this time, particularly given some of the obstacles that may occur during the holiday period.

Know Your Goals

First and foremost, it is important for you to be able to identify what you want to achieve during the off-season before you can manipulate your diet accordingly. The off-season is a perfect opportunity to improve your body composition, so it is important to identify your goals early on. The most practical way this can be done is by getting a skinfold assessment performed on you if you know someone who is
ISAK accredited (The International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry), who can then interpret the results to decide your goal. Players with a higher body fat percentage would choose the ‘burn’ diet in order to reduce calorie intake and burn off any excess body fat. Players with optimal body composition should choose the ‘balance’ diet with the aim of maintain their current physique. Meanwhile, players who are lacking in muscle mass should choose the ‘build’ diet allowing for increases in muscle mass to occur (See our ‘Off Season Program eBook’ for more detail). However, generally players under the age of 18 should always focus on building muscle mass, even if they present with a higher body fat percentage (Nutrition for the adolescent athlete will be discussed in greater detail in a future article).

Travelling and Holidays

When travelling abroad for holidays it can be difficult to maintain your usual eating habits given the variances in the local cuisine of your holiday destination. Meanwhile, travelling locally brings its’ own problems too given the large amount of time spent in a car. Below is a list of tips for travelling both abroad and locally:
– Be cautious of food and water hygiene abroad by checking the condition food is served in and only drinking bottled water.
– Learn the local cuisine before travelling.
– Take high protein snacks for the plane or car such as a protein bar.
– Stay hydrated on the plane and on holiday by regularly sipping on water.

Restaurants and Takeaways

As you will now have more time on your hands you will be more likely to go to restaurants or get takeaways with your friends and family. Whilst it is okay to do this to enjoy yourself and relax, it is still important to make careful decisions with your goals in mind. It can be easy to consume significant amounts of calories at a restaurant given the option for a 3-course meal, the liquid calories from drinks, and the potential for a buffet type setup. Below is a list of tips for eating out getting a takeaway:
– Avoid sides and drinks that provide an excess number of high calories such as chips and sugary drinks.
– Avoid deep fried foods and oily dishes, whilst minimising high fat takeaways such as pizza, chicken nuggets and chips.
– Try to add a side of vegetables to your meal as this will help to fill you up and make you less likely to consume high calorie foods.

Alcohol

Given that the off season is a time to relax with your friends and family it is highly likely that alcohol is going to come into the equation. However, it is important to be . aware of the side effects and how overconsumption can easily tarnish your off-season goals. Alcohol contains a lot of calories that are easy to consume, which will have a significant impact on your body composition with likely increases in body fat. Moreover, alcohol may reduce the benefits of the physical fitness and gym program you have been adhering too. Therefore, the rules for alcohol are simple, enjoy yourself in moderation, but do not binge!

This article has provided you with nutritional guidance for the off-season and how it can impact your physical condition for the following season. Potential obstacles to
implementing a good diet have been covered, as well as tips for how to work around them. For more help with your off-season fitness and nutrition program, see our ‘Off Season Program eBook’ at https://www.footballdna.co.uk/downloads/off-season-outfield-program-ebook/