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WORLD CUP 2022: Optimising nutrition at international football tournaments

It is well established that diet affects physical and mental performance of football players. Foods and beverages players choose in each meal and snack will influence their adaptation to training, their performances in match, and their ability to recover and reach their maximal potential. The team nutritionist should be aware of the nutritional requirements of performance in football so that food can be made available and bespoke nutritional strategies be implemented on a daily basis. Because every player is different, nutritional strategies for the team should also be adapted to individual training load, engagement in match (e.g. starters vs. non-starters, minutes played), positional roles, and individual characteristics such as anthropometry, food intolerance/allergy, preferences as well as philosophical or religious beliefs. These considerations are all the more important during an international tournament because of the increased physical and mental load put on players. As such, in this article we propose a series of practical advice that we hope will help practitioners to design and implement their team nutritional strategy for the next world cup in Qatar. We will purposefully focus on what we consider the top nutritional priorities for an international tournament, which are: preparing for match play (training and recovery days between matches), and peaking on match day (pre, during and post-match). Although a food first approach is favoured, we will also review the dietary supplements that present an interest during the competition. Finally, we will draw a list of practical recommendations.

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