by Matt Weik
If you’re like me, you love football. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with many professional and collegiate football teams on their sports nutrition and, during this time, have found a greater passion for the sport — more so than I ever had prior. And being in Pennsylvania, we have to like the Eagles, Steelers, and of course, my alma mater, Penn State.
Weekends (especially Sunday) can become crazy at our house with what seems like non-stop football on the television. That being said, if you are the same way, more than likely you’re enjoying some good food or even having a little party.
All of this can cause you to slip up nutritionally come football Sunday. In this article, I’m going to give you some tips on how to stay on track this football season so you can watch your favorite teams without needing to watch your waistline. You don’t want a wardrobe malfunction during half-time.
Nutrition Tips to Follow When Watching Football on a Sunday
Below are four essential tips to implement into your nutrition plan on Sunday’s when you’re pumped up for the game and thinking about what snacks and beverages you’ll have while watching your favorite team on TV.
1. Manage liquid calories
Liquid calories are a waistline killer and one of the easiest ways to slip up nutritionally. When you drink something like a regular soda or an alcoholic beverage, sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of how much you drank. When you finish one drink, you simply refill with another. A couple of hours down the road, you have absolutely no idea how much you’ve actually consumed. Was it three, or was it maybe six? Don’t know? That’s a problem.
Now, I’m not saying not to have fun on football Sundays but limit the liquid calories you are taking in by having a calorie-free variety like water, coffee, or tea. Limiting liquid calories will drastically reduce the caloric damage done in a span of a few hours while watching the game. Additionally, if you are constantly drinking something like water, you will notice you are more satiated and aren’t as hungry. This can further prevent you from continually picking at the food you have out for the game.
2. Hit the veggies like a linebacker
If you want an easy and nutritious way to satisfy your cravings during the game without loading up on high-calorie foods, look for veggies. This can be ones you or someone else cut up and have out to eat, or it could be a veggie tray with a wide variety of choices. Either way, to ensure you don’t slip up nutritionally, these nutrient-dense gems are your safest option if you want to load up your plate and get ready for some football.
Celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, red peppers, green peppers, and cauliflower are all great options to keep your plate healthy and your cravings minimized.
Something you shouldn’t indulge in with your veggies is the dip. If there are any veggie dips out, generally, they are going to be higher in calories and something you should stay away from if you are truly watching your caloric intake and don’t want to be at a caloric surplus for the day and potentially gain weight.
3. Use a smaller plate
It might sound silly but using a smaller plate to eat from is a great strategy to prevent yourself from eating too much during the game. Now, you might be thinking, “Well, I’ll just get up and get food more often.” True, you could. But, if the game is on, more than likely, your butt is going to be parked in a seat somewhere, so you aren’t missing any of the action. And if you utilize what was said in #2, that would only leave a little room on the already small plate for food you really shouldn’t be eating.
4. Fill up on protein
Protein is excellent at keeping you full while also helping to build lean muscle mass from your efforts in the gym. A protein source doesn’t need to be a steak or chicken breast as if you’re some 300-lb bodybuilder. Something small will work exceptionally well to suit your dietary needs.
You can look for snack items that contain lean protein, such as hummus that you can put on some of your veggies, deli meat made into roll-ups (you can even toss a slice of cheese in the middle as well), cheese cubes, and one of my favorites… nuts. Grab yourself a handful of cashews, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, etc., and you’re good to go while also taking in some healthy fats.