The Important Aspects of Nutrition in Handball

9th February 2019
As in any other physical activity, handball players must pay close attention to their dietary regimen. In addition to training and discipline, only a balanced diet will allow them to reach the highest level of competition.

Handball is a sport that requires endurance and a lot of focus and agility. It’s very popular around the world, mainly because people don’t need to make a big investment in order to play. You don’t need large facilities either; you can practice this sport almost everywhere.

How to play handball

In other places around the world, some people call it ‘hand football‘. While it does share many similarities with some versions of the king of sports, handball also has its own set of features.

There are a total of 12 players, divided into two teams. The mission: to score in the opponents’ goal, by moving the ball around with their hands. Each game is divided into two sets of 30 minutes; the winner is whichever team scores the most. In case of a tie, players will get extra minutes until there’s a winning team.

Handball match

Nutrition requirements in handball

It’s of the utmost importance that players plan their dietary regimen in great detail. They have to make sure their body is getting the energy and nutrients it needs to endure the intense physical effort.

Hydration is another aspect that players must watch carefully. Many injuries and performance drops are completely avoidable if they consume the right amount of liquid, mainly water.

Each player may have a specific meal program according to the position they play on the field. They should always eat three hours before each game or training.

This is to assure the digestive system has enough time to do its job before the game. It’s also important to consider all of the calories and nutrients from the meals must be available for their body.

Drinking water is an important part of nutrition in handball

Organized diet

The menu of handball players varies depending on the hour in which they’ll be training or playing. If the match isn’t taking place during the morning, breakfast should contain a lot of calories.

Among the recommended food options, we can find dishes such as spinach and cheese omelets; yogurts and fruits or boiled eggs are also a good choice.

The first meal of the day should contain a lot of foods with a low glycemic index. This is to keep blood sugar levels on the high side. Two possible options are quinoa and whole grains.

Lunch or the mid-day meal should be light but rich in nutrients. Consider some recipes such as a goat cheese salad or a cheese and avocado sandwich. Wraps are also a good idea; they can be filled with chicken and pesto or with brown rice and vegetables.

If during the late evening or at night they have any activity planned, supper should contain lots of carbohydrates and fats. Some examples are rice, corn and legumes. They can also have different kinds of fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna or trout.

Dinner is essential so that players can have a good recovery period. Foods with a very high caloric content would be the best idea. The list includes things like avocados, whole grain bread with honey, and sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

A variety of legumes are part of the nutrition in handball

Post-game nutrition

Athletes go through a very sensible process after a competition. The recovery of the liquids they lost through sweat is one of the key points. That’s why it is imperative to drink water in abundance.

Some drinks that can complement their hydration are those that contain large quantities of electrolytes: lemon juice and coconut water are two good examples.

The first ‘big’ meal after an intense training or a handball match shouldn’t take place during the two hours following the end of the activity. It must be highly nutritious and not too abundant.

Salads are some of the possible options. There’s a very wide variety to choose from; for example, a lentil and rice salad, with a lime and cilantro dressing.

Supplements are options to complement nutrition

When practicing such a demanding sport, both physically and mentally, as hand ball, nutritional supplements are a good option. Even though players don’t move through large distances, they require a lot of agility, fast movements and flexibility.

The top alternative would be omega-3 fatty acid capsules. They can help to reduce inflammatory processes, improve the players’ concentration and activate their defenses. But it’s also important to consider vitamin A and C supplements, as their properties could help to fight oxidative stress.