Nutrition & Dieting/Nutrition of German soccer team - can it be good for me too?
QUESTION: Dear Mrs. Ostrager,
thanks so much for deciding to answer our questions. I recently came across details about the nutrition of the players on the German national soccer team. I'd been following their cook's writing, and as I'm a student athlete myself all topics on sports and nutrition are very interesting to me. So, I was very glad when they provided an insight into their daily meals on their website. I'd like to use it as a reference point for my own nutrition, but it's a bit difficult because there doesn't seem to be any information about the calories in each meal and the exact quantities.
I was wondering whether you could help me with that - I'd like to know if and how I can use their daily meal plan in my own day-to-day life (I've written the plan out below for reference). How many calories do these meals have?
As I already mentioned, I'm a student athlete focusing on golf. I do some running on the side (approximately five miles four or five times a week). My golf training sessions take three hours a day during the term (up to eight during the holidays). I study Medicine, and as it involves lots of desk work I try to move as much as possible whenever I can - I walk at least 7 miles around town every day, beside the exercise I described above.
I'm 20 years old, 5'6, weighing 108 lbs at present. I realise I may be underweight - I had got into sports nutrition and decided to lose some weight in 2012, and after a year I had reached my goal of 123 lbs or so (I had started with 145 lbs, but as I had always been active it was muscle. It's a shame I've only realised this now.) Afterwards, I got too restrictive with what I could allow myself to eat and what was forbidden, and the consequential weight loss was unwanted. On my mum's urging, I have now made a commitment to gain some weight. My goal is 121 lbs - would you say that's an okay weight for me? We've only just started, which is why I've decided to contact you at this point.
I hope I've provided you with the information you need. Maybe the only other thing I should mention is that I don't eat meat, except for fish. Below, I've written out this meal plan that I like so much.
1. Training day (afternoon training session)
- option 1: Rye bread with Ricotta and fresh cress or herbs, plain yoghurt with one tsp of Psyllium seed husks and Raspberries or stewed Apple
- option 2: Omelet with feta cheese, Bircher Müsli
- option 3: Wholegrain bread with chicken breast carpaccio and chicory, pancakes with vanilla, apple and maple syrup
Snacks (each line is one option)
- Blueberry muffin and mango-lassi
- Joghurt with banana and chocolate chips
- Trail mix
- Mini pizza with mincemeat and feta cheese
- option 1: Pasta salad with fresh, stewed vegetables and mozzarella
- option 2: Couscous salad with herbs and raisins
- option 1: Avocado-pasta salad with sprouts and chicken breast strips, grilled tuna with toast, broccoli and pepper cream, milk rice with grapefruit
- Vegetable quiche
- Pancakes with blueberries
- Cookies and buttermilk
- Cottage cheese with honey, mango and vanilla
2. Training day (morning & afternoon sessions)
- option 1: Sourdough bread with cottage cheese, honey and jam, frieg eggs with asparagus, assortment of cheeses
- option 2: Tofu-miso soup with udon noodles and vegetables, oat flakes with plain yoghurt and banana, toast with Nutella or fruit spread
- option 3: smoked salmon with radish, wholegrain bread, plain yoghurt with grilled pineapple, blueberry muffin
- option 1: Papaya-tomato salad with goat cheese and bread toasties, risotto with broccoli, roasted banana with raspberry syrup
- option 2: Potato soup with crabs, tortellini with courgettes, peas and tomato sugo, mango-pitthaya salad with plain yoghurt
- Sandwiches with cream cheese, salad and carpaccio
- Apple pie
- Marble cake
- option 1: celery soup, battered and fried chicken breast with potato purree and green beans, spelt grits with passion fruit and fresh berries or cherries
- option 2: rocket-radicchio salad with tuna, avocado and roasted mushrooms, mincemeat pizza with yoghurt, crepes with pears and Nutella
- option 3: salmon with apple, radish and olives, veal with vegetable panache, roasted potatoes and herb butter, peach crumble with vanilla sauce
- Cookies and hot chocolate
- Milk rice with raspberries
- Corn soup
3. Match day (evening match)
- option 1: Banana bread, cottage cheese, honey and fruit spread, omelet with ham and cheese, mango-lassi
- option 2: Scrambled eggs with herbs, rye bread with chicken breast carpaccio, milk bread with ricotta and jam, plan yoghurt with mango
- option 1: Tomato-mozzarella salad, stewed fish with glass noodles and vegetables from the wok, cottage cheese with honey, lemon juice and strawberries
- option 2: Pasta with vegetables and pine nuts, halibut with potatoes and stewed spinach, warm hazelnut truffles with vanilla sauce
Pre-match snack (3 hours and a half prior to the game)
- option 1: Spaghetti with tomato sauce
Dinner (immediately after the match if possible)
- option 1: Pasta with broccoli, cashew nuts and goat cheese, potato dumplings with roast poulard breast and vegetables, warm waffles with passion fruit and berry sauce
- option 2: Oven-baked peppers with rocket, bread chips and cottage cheese, asian lasagna with spinach and yoghurt dip, apple pancakes
Thank you for reading this far! To sum up, my basic question is - could I use a modification of this meal plan as a reference point for my own nutrition? Could you suggest any such modifications? Also, as I'm not a professional athlete, do my nutritional needs change if I have to spend a large portion of a given day studying and don't have as much time for exercise?
One more thing I'd like to know is how I should time my meals. At present, I eat breakfast at 6, bagged lunch at 1:30 and dinner around 6:30. Would eating snacks make sense, regarding both my performance on the golf course and in the classroom?
Thank you so much for your feedback. I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
ANSWER: Hello Ana,
I appreciate you taking the time to express your interest in sports nutrition. There are many variables that need to be addressed in your question. I truly believe that it would be in your best interest to get a complete medical evaluation from your physician prior to starting any diet program. I understand that you want to follow a diet plan that mimics your routine and caloric needs based on the demands of your sport. Every person is different. You can take some ideas, recipes, and basic logistics of the German Soccer (GS) Team meal plan and incorporate it into your plan. It is not advisable to follow any plan that is not tailored specifically for needs. Since you are not a professional athlete I am not quite sure why you would want to use the GS team meal plan.
In order to calculate your caloric needs and the total amount of calories that this plan provides you will need to input each item into a program that your can find online. Try www.self.com/tools this is a good place to get started. Without evaluating your calorie expenditure and having background on your medical issue I cannot comfortably state whether or not this is a good plan for you to follow. I will say that based on your height and weight you are considered underweight at this point in time. In terms of timing of your meals- since you are underweight you should eat when you feel hungry. A nutritious snack and/or mini meal in-between your main meals is a good idea especially if you are trying to gain weight.
I hope that this answers some of your concerns. If you have any other questions I would be happy to continue this conversation. Healthy regards.
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QUESTION: Thank you so much for your quick and detailed reply. The reason why I liked the German team's meal plan so much was because it sometimes just feels good to be able to do what professional athletes do, even though I'm just a student athlete myself. I'll follow your advice and incorporate some of their ideas and logistics into my own nutrition.
I do realise that my calorie intake probably shouldn't be as high as theirs, as my sports and daily lifestyle are different. I've been trying to calculate my calorie expenditure, but haven't been successful. Most calculators want me to choose a level of activity, and I'm torn between choosing 'sedentary' because of my studies, and 'moderately active' because of the exercise I do. Could you please help me figure out a number? I know there are several factors that need to be considered in order to make it accurate, but it would be great if I had a reference number to build on.
So, once again, I weigh 108 lbs at 5'6. On an average day, I spend eight hours studying (lectures, clinical work, lab work, study hall), and do either 120 minutes (8 miles) or 100 minutes (5-6 miles) of walking. Then, I will do one of the following combinations:
1. Two-three hours of golf
2. 45 minutes of running (5 miles)
Over the weekend, I typically run 5 miles, walk 10 miles and play golf three-six hours.
How many calories should I take in in order to meet my needs? I've been given numbers ranging from 625 to more than 2000 by different calculators, and I trust that your estimate will be much closer to what I should actually be doing.
Once again, thank you so much for your help!
What you need to determine is your BMR (basal metabolic rate) you can try this website although I am not affiliated and/or promoting one website over the next, www.myfitnesspal.com/tools/bmr-calculator. Once you determine your resting caloric needs and add in your caloric expenditure on a daily basis you can calculate how many calories you need on a daily basis.
As I recall, based on your height and weight you are classified as being underweight. In addition you are exercising on a routine basis. Yes, there are many hours during the week spent studying and sitting but that does that classify you as a sedentary person. You will need to figure out how many calories you are burning so that you can ensure that you are eating more than that number in order to gain weight. Think of weight as a balance scale or a seesaw. If you put too much weight on one side it will unevenly distribute the heavier side. Likewise, if you are not getting enough calories your body will break down protein and muscle mass and you will lose weight. You have no fat to lose at this point in time.
If I am understanding correctly you are working on achieving an exact number. Unless you are willing to track everything you eat and every calorie you expend this is a very difficult thing to accomplish on a daily basis. Instead, I would encourage you to eat more food than you are right now. That does not mean filling yourself up with non-nutritious junk food. If you have a smartphone try finding an App that will track your caloric expenditure while you are engaged in physical activity. If you don't have an iphone or smartphone use a pedometer. You can purchase one for about $10 online or a local sporting good store.
The point is this- you want to stay healthy and have enough energy to study, go about your daily living tasks and to exercise (amateur, athlete, etc.). This is different for everyone. Don't get locked into what professional athletes are using as their guide. It is meant to be just that- a guide. Not a strict guide that you are never allowed to deviate from. Give yourself some slack and focus on how you feel, your energy level, and your resistance level.
I would urge you to get a full medical exam from your physician and seek out the advice of a licensed Nutritionist in your area.
Best of luck in your endeavors.