Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Sports Nutrition'

At the FIFA World Cup, Does Size Matter?

July 13th, 2018 · No Comments · FIFA World Cup, Fitness Testing, Football (Soccer), Sports Nutrition

The FIFA Football World Cup in Russia is coming to its conclusion in a couple of days with the final between France and Croatia. Many of the top teams have been surprisingly knocked out early or not even making the tournament. It is challenging predicting which team will be successful, with none of the top three teams who were predicted to win making the final. What makes a team successful? There is no one factor which determines success; factors such as player skill, speed, agility, game experience, teamwork, coaching, fatigue level and mental focus are just some of the elements. Another factor, body size, may have only a minor effect, but an effect nonetheless.

Prior to the tournament, FIFA released the anthropometric data of the 736 players (squads of 23 from the 32 nations), which gave us the opportunity to compare the body size of players from each team and playing position. We found that out of all the teams, the goalkeepers at the 2018 FIFA World Cup stood out – they tended to be older, taller and heavier than the field players. The youngest players were the forwards, the shortest the midfielders, and the leanest based on BMI were the midfielders. Now that the two teams that are to battle out the final on Sunday are known, we have pulled out their team data and had a look at how they match up.

silhouettes of soccer players

Squads Compared

We compared the body size data of the French and Croatian 23-man squads. The Croatians are on average older (27.9 v 26.0 years), a couple of centimetres (an inch) taller (185.3 v 183.3), but of similar average weight (79.3 v 80.0kg). If we just compare the expected starting 11 players (based on their semi-final match), the age difference is even greater (29.5 v 26.2 years). For both teams, the average weight of the players in the starting 11 is lower than the full squad average (Croatia 79.3 to 77.6kg, France 80.0 to 78.9kg), indicating the top players are leaner. The lower weight was not just because they are shorter, as the Body Mass Index was lower too (Croatia 23.1 to 22.8, France 23.8 to 23.5).

Players Compared

The two goalkeepers expected to play in the final are Danijel Subasic of Croatia and Hugo Lloris of France. The Croatian has a couple of years more experience (aged 33.7 versus 31.5 years), and also has an advantage in size: he is taller (191 v 188cm) and heavier (84 v 82 kg).

Of the starting four defenders, the noteworthy difference is their age. The Croatians are on average more than five years older (28.9 v 23.6 years). If this age difference translates to greater maturity and experience on the field, then they have a distinct advantage.

Comparing the midfielders, the French players are on average quite a bit heavier (76.7 v 70.7 kg) despite being of very similar height. At this level, we don’t expect players to be carrying much excess body fat, so the difference in weight would be mostly due to them being more solidly built, having more muscle and therefore being stronger. If this World Cup final becomes a physical encounter, the French midfield players are going to have a big advantage.

The Croatian forwards are also a couple of inches taller than their French counterparts (187.0 v 181.7cm), which may be an advantage around the goals, particularly for corners and other set pieces.

Conclusion

When it comes to the physical attributes of the two teams, in most cases it has been the Croatian team that has the advantage. Of course, body size is not the most important factor for successful performance in football, though, if all other things are equal then it may be the difference that could win a World Cup for Croatia. However, it may just come down to luck, particularly if it finishes with a penalty shootout.

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Funny Weight Loss

July 6th, 2015 · No Comments · Sports Nutrition

Losing weight does not always have to be serious. On Topend Sports we have a page about Funny Nutrition Quotes, such as my favorite by George Miller: “The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again”. You’ll also find great advice, such as “the best way to look thin is to hang out with fat people.”

weight-loss-meme

image credit: GarciniaCambogia.fit

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Anyone for a tapeworm?

September 25th, 2014 · No Comments · Sports Nutrition

tapewormI have spent some time collecting information about popular diets, including some pretty bizarre fad diets, and the most bizarre prize has to go to the tapeworm diet.  The idea is to ingest a tapeworm, which then shares your gut and consumes some of your calories. I have no doubt you will also feel unwell and will eat less food too. Just the thought of it has put me off my food.

You can buy tapeworm eggs to ingest (really!), but if you are really desperate you could just try eating undercooked meat (I’m kidding).  I am not surprised that some desperate people do actually try this extreme measure diet, but it is not at all recommended, it is dangerous, don’t do it, seriously.

Read more about the Tapeworm Diet.

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Individual Diet and Workout Plans for just $5

August 29th, 2014 · No Comments · Fitness, Sports Nutrition

$5 diet and workout plan from oatmeal

I will give you a personal diet or workout plan for just $5

Have you heard of the website fiverr before? Until recently I hadn’t. It is a very interesting site where people offer to do tasks and services for just $5. I can’t get enough of it. I have been ordering services for my website, as well as fun things too. Now I have partnered with Fiverr to bring you this great deal. For only $5 you can get a great workout or diet plan designed just for you.

The plan is provided by a Certified Personal Trainer with over 5 years of experience. You can read his reviews and see that he has many very satisfied customers. Whether you want to lose body fat, build muscle mass, or just be healthy, he can help you achieve your personal fitness or diet goals for just $5.

You have not much to lose and lots to gain. For more details and to sign up, go to the $5 Plan.

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Vessyl the Smart Cup

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Sports Nutrition

vessyl drinking cupHey this is cool. A drinking cup that monitors your hydration status plus other intakes. It recognises any liquid that is poured into it – identifying and reporting back the fluid volume consumed as well as nutritional content like calories and caffeine.

There is a wide range of possible uses for this, and the nutritional intake and hydration status of athletes is just one of them. The idea is great, but maybe it is not the ideal solution yet.

The problem is that in order for it to accurately track your intake you need to put all your fluids into the same cup. It does not seem very good for an athlete, it is not something you could easily carry around while exercising. It would be hard to mix drinks too. You can’t just have a drink of water while waiting for your coffee to cool down. You’ll be forever washing this cup (it is not dishwasher safe). What about at the pub after a game? You will get a few stares when you get the barman to fill your own cup, and you can’t beat a beer from an ice-cold glass.

I look forward to seeing more innovations along this line, it could be the start of something.

UPDATE: the company that produced this product has shut down. Hopefully, the idea is not dead and there will be something similar one day soon.

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Can McDonalds Be Good For You?

March 3rd, 2010 · 2 Comments · Sports Nutrition

In disappointing news for dietitians worldwide, McDonald’s fast food restaurants in New Zealand have signed a deal with the multinational weight loss company Weight Watchers to promote some of its meals as ideal for dieters. Some of the meals will now be marked with the Weight Watchers logo, as well as the logo placed on its menu boards and tray mats. Weight Watchers will also promote McDonald’s to dieters. This follows the move three years ago when McDonald’s  put the Heart Foundation’s tick on seven meals, including burgers and nuggets. The three meals to have the Weight Watchers endorsement are nuggets (1560 kilojoules), a Filet-O-Fish (1390kJ) and a sweet chilli seared chicken wrap (1640kJ), all served with salad.

This is said to be as part of a  push by McDonalds to change its image, but cynics like myself say that it is part of a push by McDonalds to make more money. And why wouldn’t they, that is what they are expected to do. Unfortunately too many people will be conned by the endorsement by Weight Watchers, and enter their stores and end up buying other things on the menu. Even if a mum goes in and buys one of the healthier choices, and feels great about her Weight Watchers meal, she will likely still buy the kids burgers and fries. Don’t be fooled people. Fast food can be part of your diet, just in moderation. And if you are treating yourself, why not buy what you are going to enjoy the most, which may not necessarily have the tick from Weight Watchers.

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Fat Tax to Fight Obesity

December 28th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Sports Nutrition

Junk Food TaxI am a big believer in introducing a junk food tax to make those who eat unhealthy food subsidize their own health care, to encourage the public to eat healthily and cut obesity rates. And it is great to see that Taiwan is planning to be the first government to introduce such a tax on junk food. They are looking at introducing this special tax on food that is deemed unhealthy, such as sugary drinks, candy, cakes, fast food and alcohol. The Bill is expected to be submitted to the Parliament for approval next year and could take effect sometime in 2011. Let’s hope this starts a worldwide trend, as hitting people in the hip pocket seems an effective way to make people change their behavior.

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Unusual Olympic Fuels

October 2nd, 2008 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Nutrition, Track & Field

Does fast food make you fast? Usian Bolt (which has to be one of the greatest names for a sprinter – like he was born to run fast) was quoted as saying he eats McDonalds nuggets before his events, as if it was some kind of wonder pill. Similarly, Australian race walker Jarred Tallent (winner of silver in the 50 km walk) was also in the local press revealing that he fuelled himself on pizza on the eve of his race and coke during the final stages of his race. Pizza is his favorite food and he finally gave in after two weeks at the food hall night before race. After his 20 km race he threw up during the final stages and afterwards, and after his pizza binge, he was afraid it would happen again. Where are the sports dietitians advising these athletes? Why would they risk one of the most important events in their sporting careers? They were obviously good enough to still win their races despite having junk food, but please don’t brag about it as if it helped you. There is too much fast food eaten in this world already, we don’t want our elite athletes promoting it too.

Related Pages: sports nutrition

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Fast Dollars for Fast Food

October 2nd, 2008 · No Comments · Olympic Games, Sports Nutrition, Track & Field

Nathan Deeks, an Australian Champion race walker, appeared in a full page color advertisement for the fast food restaurant McDonalds, saying that he eats ‘Maccas’ after his events, including at the Olympic Games. I know that he was probably only trying to earn a few sponsorship bucks in return from all the effort he puts into his training, but as a sporting role model it was such a disgusting thing to promote eating undoubtedly unhealthy food. I don’t mind that he had the occasional fast food snack, but it is not right for an athlete representing Australia to say it so publicly. It does not say much about the dietitians at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) if one of their athletes comes out of there with this attitude that this is OK to do. A few days later, a very similar looking ad was published (obviously on purpose), with an ex- Australian Olympian and NBA star Luc Longley, promoting healthy eating, saying that he never considered eating junk food before or after competing. The ad was a welcome response to the McDonalds one, which needed to be done, but I don’t think enough ho-ha was made of it. The government spends millions of dollars trying to address the problem of childhood obesity, including trying to get more people active and into sports, and also millions are spent on the AIS getting athletes including Nathan Deeks properly prepared for the Olympic Games. I don’t think he has done his long time supporter (AIS) any good and hopefully he got into trouble, all for a small financial reward.

Related Pages: Summer Olympic Games
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Thorpey fat or fit?

August 18th, 2006 · No Comments · Sports Nutrition, Swimming

Is Ian Thorpe fat? In a country where we have a real obesity problem, there are people calling one of the world’s greatest swimmers fat because he may have put on a couple of pounds. If he is out of shape, he has shown by his determination and previous workrate that he could easily get himself back to top form. It is most likely that he was just photographed in a non-flattering pose eating junk food. And there is nothing wrong with an elite sports person having some junk food every now and then. As part of a balanced diet there is room for all types of food. As a swimmer he would burn copious amounts of calories before most of us are even out of bed, and so he would need to eat a large quantity of food to provide his energy needs. Let’s wait for the next major championship where he puts himself against the world’s best before we criticise him any more.

Related Pages: swimming, Ian Thorpe profile, sports nutrition

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