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Why England footballer Jesse Lingard is moving to a plant-based diet

The England midfielder has ditched the energy gels for plant-based options



Manchester United footballer, Jesse Lingard is preparing for next season with a plant-based diet

The England midfielder has ditched the energy gels for plant-based options, as he shares his physical and mental tips for keeping match-fit.

As England made it through to the last 16 of UEFA Euro 2020, Manchester United footballer, Jesse Lingard turned his attention to next season.

Admitting it was “emotional” to miss out on Gareth Southgate’s 26-man Euro 2020 squad, Lingard is now fully focused on the new Premier League season, with the aim of plating regular football again.

The opening game will see Leeds United visit Old Trafford on Saturday 14 August.

The midfielder, currently on loan at West Ham United, has started preparation for the season opener with a new plant-based diet, and physical and mental recovery playing a key part in his routine.

“At first, I tried to go fully vegan straight away, but after five days, I found I was starving during a game, Lingard says.

“Plant-based foods are always going to be a good fuel component and put you into a really good mode going into a game, so I’m making sure to have as much as possible.”

Lingard’s typical match day diet consists of a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins; scrambled eggs, chicken, broccoli, pasta, potatoes with bananas and American pistachios as snacks.

During a game, whilst many players use energy gels to aid performance, Lingard sticks to fruit and nuts for protein-powered fuel.

“Ahead of a game I tend to have scrambled eggs and chicken and broccoli pasta,” he says.

“They give us energy gels to take but I rarely do. I take pistachios to games and snack on them at half time to refuel me and give me the good protein I need on a match day.”

With so many games in a season, to stay fit week-in and week-out, Lingard stresses the importance of recovery between games.

He adds: “Food is very key with recovery. Especially after a game, it is important to get the right food. You have to recover faster for the next game. After a game I get as much food as possible, go to the gym and then have an ice bath.”

The physical demands of professional football are immense but the mental stress can affect players equally, if not more.

Between matches, Lingard admits it’s important to step away from the sport to give his mind a break and has one sure-fire way to deal with stress after a tough match – his daughter.

“She’s a blessing. She takes all the stress away from me. She’s a joy to have and I love seeing her every time I go home,” he says.

“If I’m not doing that then I’m going out on walks, going to the gym or reading a good book.” 

Jesse Lingard’s top tips to get and stay match fit:

Natural snacks for the win

It’s easy to grab a quick energy fix, whether it be energy drinks or gels. Natural options can do everything you’re looking for to give you a burst of energy. Fresh fruit, like bananas and berries, and nuts can give a quick burst of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. 

Plant-based transition

If you’re thinking about trying a plant-based diet, ease your way into it. I tried to rush it but incorporating plant-based alternatives into your diet is a great way to start the journey to a vegan diet.

Take a cold bath

After intense exercise, a cold bath – ideally an ice bath – really eases any soreness and also helps to fight small muscle fibre damage. It can also help to reduce inflammation picked up from a knock or injury, which is really important for physical recovery after a game. It may give you a shock at first, but it’s well worth it.

Eat complete proteins

When it comes to muscle recovery and muscle growth, you need complete proteins, they are amino acids which your body can’t make, so you have to get them from your diet. American pistachios are an easy form of complete protein because you don’t need to cook or prep them and you can just snack on the go – they’re my go-to, especially on match days.

Make time to refresh

Mental health is so important. Whatever level of sport you play, stress is often high so it’s important to take a step back and away sometimes to regroup and refresh. For me, that’s spending time with my family and giving my mind a rest. Failing that, then a walk and a good book is great down time.



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