ARSENAL’S performance nutritionist Richard Allison has given an amazing insight into how difficult it is to get the club’s stars to eat properly.
In an incredibly revealing interview on the Food for Fitness podcast, the former Royal Marine Commando made shock revelations.
Rob Holding and Petr Cech tuck in with the food service at the Rashid Centre, Dubai
Certain squad members “don’t care” about nutrition
Some players base their food decisions on Netflix programmes
He often has to chase up stars to take nutrient or recovery supplements
The players are not used to being told “no”.
Arsenal have a DEXA scanner on site, which determines body composition through low radiation X-rays.
And the machine is now helping Allison keep the players on the right track to correct nutrition.
He said: “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.
“Rob Holding is one who has made a massive change to his nutritional intake over the past 12 to 16 months. He is really the ultimate professional player in many areas, not just nutrition.
“We’ve also had a player come over from South America recently (Lucas Torreira), who is very similar to Rob.
“The challenge with him, however, is the language barrier. I don’t speak Spanish and he doesn’t speak English well, so we are using Google translate to work with him.”
Allison 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.”
He then talks about a vegan first-teamer — Hector Bellerin.
He said: “The way he transitioned to veganism was through many years of process and thought.
Hector Bellerin has shown how eating a vegan diet can work well if done properly
Richard Allison is frustrated at some players taking advice from Netflix shows
“And in terms of all of his DEXA scans and health markers, he is in a much stronger position than when he wasn’t vegan.”The fashion for veganism is not always healthy, though.
Allison added: “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.”
Allison reveals the Gunners performance team have worked hard to ensure players receive the very best nutritional intake.
Initiatives range from swapping the team-coach chocolate box to protein bars, to hiring top chef Raymond Blanc to provide post-match finger bites in the dressing room.
But even that, Allison admits, often is not enough to keep some players motivated.
‘PULLING MY HAIR OUT’
He explained: “We put out their individualised 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 per cent 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.
Rob Holding is rated by Arsenal nutritional chief Richard Allison as the ultimate professional after making a ‘massive’ change in his diet
“One of the coaches pointed out that a lot of these players spend most of their lives being told ‘yes’ and not very often they are told ‘no’.
“So when they are coming into the training ground, that’s probably the only time anyone ever says ‘no’ to them. It can be like fighting a battle.
“The majority are very good — but it’s those little things that you just don’t expect.”
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