As England made it through to the last 16 of UEFA Euro 2020, Manchester United and England footballer, Jesse Lingard, has turned his attention to next season and shared his physical and mental health routine that he hopes will help him continue his impressive form.
Although Lingard narrowly missed out on playing for the England Euro 2020 squad, the midfielder enjoyed an outstanding end to the season – fuelled by his new mainly plant-based diet.
Jesse Lingard incorporates protein-packed American pistachios into his diet to fuel peak physical performance
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 – the opening game against Leeds United at Old Trafford on August 14th – with the aim of playing regular football.
The midfielder, currently on loan at West Ham United, has already started preparation for the season opener with a new plant-based diet, and physical and mental recovery playing a key part in his routine.
Lingard is currently transitioning to a vegan diet as he prepares for the new season and said:
“At first, I tried to go fully vegan straight away, but after five days, I found I was starving during a game. 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.”
When it comes to his current match day diet and keeping energy for a full 90 minutes, Lingard admits to going plant-based rather than using energy gels that most players use:
“Ahead of a game I tend to have scrambled eggs and chicken and broccoli pasta. 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.”
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.
With so many games in a season, to stay fit week in and week out, Lingard stresses the importance of recovery between games:
“Food is very key with recovery. Especially after a game, it is important to get the right food. You have to regain to recover faster after for the next game. After a game I get as much food down me 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 refresh mentally and has one sure-fire way to deal with stress after a tough match –his daughter.
“You know, I see my daughter. She’s a blessing. She takes all the stresses away from me. She’s a joy to have and I love seeing her every time I go home. If I’m not doing that then I’m going out on walks, going to the gym or reading a good book.”
The 28-year-old is clearly in peak physical condition, and he’s not the first high-profile sports star to switch on to the benefits of plant-based eating – others include his former Manchester United teammate Chris Smalling, and tennis champions Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams.
He’s not 100% vegan. Lingard changed to a more ‘flexitarian’ diet – where animal products are eaten occasionally, but there’s a much bigger focus on plant-based elements – halfway through the season.
Jesse Lingard shares his top physical and mental health routine 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.
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 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. 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 because they’re basically amino acids and things 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.
To learn more about the nutritional benefits of American pistachios, go to www.americanpistachios.org.