We often look at inspiration from world-class athletes and their perfect diet plans. From strict healthy food to no junk at all, these athletes really make sure that they’re focused on being fit.
In contrast to this, English football giants Arsenal, have more or less driven away from this common notion. In an extensive insight, team head nutritionist Richard Allison gave an incredible insight into how the players make his job the toughest.
Arsenal have a DEXA (Duel-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) scanner on the site that determines body composition with low-radiation X-rays. The machine, according to Richard is now helping in players stay on the right track with their diet.
Richard says, “We publish the results of the scans in the dressing room, which acts as a good motivator for the players to stick to their meal plans. When someone is at the bottom of the table, their interest in nutrition suddenly picks up.”
Richard added, “Unfortunately, we also have some players who just don’t seem to care and perhaps have just got by on natural talent and don’t feel the need to focus on nutrition.”
In what has caused the performance nutritionist a lot of discomfort is the fact that some players blindly follow diet documentaries from Netflix.
He says, “What bugs me is when some players go home and watch a Netflix documentary and then come in the next day and say, ‘I want to be a vegan’.
“I’m not against athletes being vegan. It can be done but not when it’s a trend rather than a conscious change.”
Even after the nutrition team’s best efforts in making sure the payers stay fit and healthy, it is not enough.
Richard explains, “We put out their individualized supplements on their specific seats at half- time and full-time.
“They literally have to sit on them or move them out of the way to avoid taking them.
“But that doesn’t always mean 100 percent adherence and often we have to chase up the players to take them. Sometimes it’s over a simple thing like preferring a cola-flavoured gel to a cherry flavoured.
“You are pulling your hair out to get the player to do something or take their recovery supplements. It isn’t easy.”
The players in the Arsenal squad are used to being said ‘yes’ for everything. According to Richard, this makes it difficult for the players to hear a ‘no’. The only time they are refused for something is when they come in for training.
Arsenal is one of the most famous clubs in world football. Currently sitting fourth in the table, the Gunners are focusing on securing their side’s Champions League campaign next season. But while the players show their talent on the pitch, we now know the troubles team nutritionists have to go through.