An ex chef of one of the most prestigious restaurants in Barcelona explains the rules he follows to prepare food for the players at Marcet.
Contrary to popular beliefs, a footballers diet shouldn’t really differ from anybody else’s. The difference is that athletes follow a strict diet, that’s different from most, simple due to the fact that the majority of people don’t eat correctly.
“Having healthy eating habits is understanding that there aren’t any bad foods, and everything must be eaten in the quantities shown by the food pyramid”, says Ivette Ogazón, the nutritionist at Fundación Marcet: “Each meal has to be consumed in the correct portions and must follow the recommended daily intake”. Something that’s vital for anybody who wants to dedicate their life to professional football and this should also be valued by the whole population. Even though athletes require a higher consumption of carbohydrates, protein and water to refuel from the physical drain and dehydration from intense physical activity. The food pyramid will always be their reference to plan for a balanced diet.
Another thing is to hit the spot to make the correct distribution of macronutrients appetising. This is the challenge set for Fundación Marcet’s chef, Calixto Sánchez. His mission is to make food that’s healthy but also tasty and appetising for under eighteen years olds. “In order for a meal to end up tastier it’s crucial to elaborate the sauces well”, the chef explains, who is accustomed to dealing with some of the most demanding mouths in Spanish society.
Before coming to Marcet, Calitxo worked as a chef for many years at La Balsa, one of the best restaurants in Barcelona. “They gave us the Michelin Star in 1989. We would normally serve to clients such as the King of Spain and his family, ex president Aznar… In reality almost all politicians have been through the doors of La Balsa. Also a lot of athletes, I can remember Figo, Maradona…”
Cooking for athletes isn’t the same. The taste still has the same importance, but the priority is to provide a balanced diet for the attendees of Marcet’s High Performance Academy. According to Calitxo, the foods that are highest in demand are pasta and rice: “If the kids don’t eat pasta, it feels like they haven’t eaten all day. So I try to alternate the types and the sauces in order for there to be a variety. But there always has to be rice or pasta”. Something very normal in sports training, because carbohydrates are essential to refill the players glycogen stores after an intense training session.
In this sense, food is an important part of a footballers training. As much as their technical & tactical abilities or intelligence in decision making. Eating correctly is extremely important to recover from the physical drain, from training more than once a day. Calitxo knows this, he’s created recipes that not only combines taste with performance, but also to satisfy cultural differences. “Here at Marcet there’s a lot of kids from different parts of the world, with very different eating habits that at times aren’t compatible. Some can’t eat pork, others beef… Due to this, we have alternatives like chicken, lamb or rabbit. It’s important that there is variety and that all players feel comfortable when sitting at the table”.