Captain caveman

Swindon Town veteran Darren Ward explains to FFT how the Paleo diet – one that mimics that of our Stone Age ancestors – can boost your fitness. Bring on the Neanderthal nosh!
Captain caveman

Eleia pure water

“This is water that’s been through a process called reverse osmosis, which removes all impurities and produces water with much smaller molecules – water in its purest form. You can buy it in health stores and I’ve found it to improve my hydration levels. I sweat quite a bit when I play, which means it’s vital I keep on top of my hydration.”

Pineapple

“This contains high levels of the protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain, which works well for reducing inflammation, bruising and pain after training or a game.”

Beetroot juice

“Exercise uses oxygen that is stored in the blood, and beetroot juice is found to reduce the amount that is used – therefore increasing the amount of time you can exercise for. I drink it before games and at half-time.”

Coconut

“I find this to be a great source of energy and it helps boost my endurance over the 90 minutes, as well as aiding digestion. Coconut is highly nutritious, rich in fibre and it helps with the absorption of minerals, vitamins and nutrients into the body.”

Herbal tea

“As a professional footballer my fluid levels are as important to me as my food intake. I’ll have a cup of ginger tea after a game – it’s a healthy drink that I find helps keep fluid levels in check. It’s quite soothing after a 90-minute battle on the pitch and can help calm your body down.”

Plantain

“This helps strengthen your immunity against infections and maintain good vision thanks to a healthy content of Vitamin A, potassium, calcium and fibre. Plantain gives me energy, strengthens my bones, doesn’t interfere with my blood sugar levels and the potassium helps control hydration, so it’s something I’d recommend a great deal.”

Sweet potato

“The iron levels in sweet potato help make red blood cells – these carry oxygen around the body and therefore help you run for longer.”

Yams

“Yams are low in calories but high in fibre, which slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream. The drip-feed of energy helps increase my endurance during the week when I train and then at the weekend for a game.”

Papaya

“Tuck into papaya before the game and have it for your post-match or after-training snack. It contains a proteolytic enzyme that has been found to be as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs.”

White meat

“Chicken and white fish are a superb source of protein and omega-3 nutrients. The paleo diet encourages the consumption of grass-fed lean meats from organic stock.”

Discover more about Darren Ward’s natural approach at darrenwardsblog.blogspot.co.uk or follow him @DarrenWard18

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