The World Cup captured our attention this summer as we watched teams from all corners of the globe compete in the quest for futbol glory. As World Cup players are endurance athletes – the average player runs six to eight miles per match – they require up to 4,000 calories per day to keep their bodies strong and performing at max ability. In order to keep players healthy and full, many teams travel with their own set of nutritionists and chefs to monitor each player’s intake of calories, vitamins and minerals. In addition, the team nutritionist must prepare food that the players will eat and enjoy and as a result, many teams brought their own food supplies to ensure a “taste of home.” For example, the Italian team brought pasta, parmesan cheese, and wine to Brazil, while the Mexican team traveled with pozole, and the U.S. team brought peanut butter, jelly, Cheerios, and A1 Steak Sauce.
So what do the soccer players eat for breakfast? According to the U.S. Team Chef Bryson Billapando, breakfast chicken enchiladas were the most popular morning meal offering for the U.S. team. Instead of breakfast pancakes, he creates enchiladas filled with slow-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and garlic, shredded chicken, eggs, and homemade enchilada sauce. As the players require a carb-heavy diet, mixed with high quality proteins and healthy fats (no butter!), they also often enjoy rice and beans, or even pasta with their morning meals to fuel up for the day.
To ensure players are getting their required intake of vitamins and minerals, Chef Billapando requires each individual to fill his plate with at least two varieties of vegetables and multiple servings of fruit. According to team staff, the U.S. players eat an entire case, or 25 lbs., of avocados each day!
The next time you are enjoying a pancake breakfast in Denver (smothered in butter and syrup!); think of the World Cup players and their morning plate of rice and beans. We’re glad we get to enjoy pancakes and waffles!