This winter, the eyes of the world will be on Qatar as football’s World Cup takes place.
Usually, the showcase event is in the summer, but the searing heat in the Middle East means a rescheduled winter tournament, with many domestic leagues taking a break for the duration. There are many new challenges a winter competition will face, such as player fatigue, as top stars will already be involved in their club season.
One such player is Chelsea and United States star Christian Pulisic. Pulisic is a player who straddles two very different sporting cultures, the franchise system of the United States and the European scene, where promotion and relegation are a constant norm. The US football season, Major League Soccer, finishes over the winter, so many of their players will be ready for the World Cup.
Pulisic is from the other half of their squad; his Chelsea side is among the favorites to qualify for the Champions League in the latest Ladbrokes odds, and he’s already appeared in the big club tournament. He isn’t the only one; players such as SerginoDest and Tyler Adams play for big European clubs and, like Pulisic, will have to be right on top of their fitness.
How do stars like Pulisic stay in good shape, adjusting to the constant challenges football presents? Specifically, what diet does a finely honed athlete like Captain America (his nickname back home) have to stick to? If that’s something you’ve ever wondered about, you’re in the right place; in a recent interview with GQ, he revealed all as we explore here.
On an average game day, Pulisic admitted that he fuels up around three hours before a game. Usually, matches kick off at 3pm, so there’s often a light breakfast, which sees the star enjoy avocado on toast, possibly with a fried egg on top!
The pregame meal usually comes around midday, three hours before kick-off on a typical match day. The aim is to consume a meal heavy in carbohydrates with moderate protein to create energy. Of course, any later and the meal could sit heavily in the stomach, so the timing has to be spot on. Pasta and chicken are usually on the menu, but eggs, oily fish, spinach and fruit can also be found for a more varied taste experience. Pulisic admits he might do ‘something tiny’ before going out for a sugar boost.
“You don’t want to be too full right when you walk out., “ says the attacker. “This gives you enough time to feel that energy and be ready to go.”
Post-match is all about replenishing energy and aiding recovery. That could be incredibly vital in the heat of Qatar, especially with games condensed into a tight period. Pulisic is likely to have an increased focus on post-match nutrition, with a carbohydrate serving, around 20-30g of protein and fruit and vegetables for muscle building and recovery.
Finally, hydrating is a key part of the post-match ritual, so there will be plenty of water on hand to help get the levels back. For those who struggle to eat post-match, a whey protein shake or pint of flavored milk will do the trick ahead of a proper evening meal at home.
“After the game, we have a bunch of food options in the locker room to replenish yourself and get all that good stuff back in your body,” said Pulisic.
Of course, in the offseason, there is a focus on fitness, but players can indulge in their favorite foods without quite so much guilt. For Pulisic, that means cracking out something he claims everyone enjoys. “I’d go nice and easy and make some tacos. Everyone loves tacos, so that’s my go-to.”
Top-flight footballers leave nothing to chance, from their training schedule to their diet, and Christian Pulisic is the perfect example. Not only is it important what he eats, but also when he eats. Food is the body’s fuel, and for top athletes, the fuel has to be perfect for optimal performance.