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West Ham's Matt Jones offers insight into nutrition at the Premier League news

When Matt Jones tore his cruciate ligaments twice before he turned 20, all hopes of a career as an elite sportsman vanished.

Lucky for him, the silver lining was right in front of him. The industry wasn’t cut off for him forever.

“During the second phase of my recovery, I started reading about nutrition because I was being treated by a physical therapist and a strength and conditioning coach. No one told me how,” he says. sky sports.

“Then I noticed that I was gaining weight rapidly as I was going from incredibly high to incredibly low energy expenditure while on crutches.

“I was also fascinated by the impact of nutrition on health, performance, recovery and injury. At the time, about 15 years ago, sports nutrition was not a big deal, so I did a Bachelor of Science in Sports Science. It was pretty broad and general, and then I went on to do a master’s degree in nutrition science because that sports science degree really made me realize that I was interested in sports nutrition.”

Jones has been working as a sports nutrition consultant for West Ham since June 2019.

Having built a reputation for himself over the past decade, Jones has worked in Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the United States, but since the summer of 2019 has been working as a sports nutrition consultant in the Premier League. west ham.

He works two days a week at the Hammers Rush Green Training Ground as part of the performance and medical team. So what exactly is that role?

“I like to spend time on different areas where nutrition can have an impact,” he explains. “What I often do is theoretical sessions as a group. It’s like a traditional lesson that involves a video recording and sometimes shared with the group.

“It’s the first week of a month-long cycle, and the second week is a more practical application session, likely in the dining room. Carbohydrates as fuel and how to use a small tank of gas.” You can talk about what you have. Eating carbs fills your muscles, and strenuous activity lowers your gas tank.

“For example, after 70-75 minutes of intense action in football, the gas tank is completely empty and the player feels tired. The gas tank fills up.. In the dining room, he pointed out different carb options and talked about serving sizes and more.

“In week three, I’ll be out on the grass with the guys and pointing out the intense action. For example, I just did a 10m sprint, so my gas tank is just x percent less. That’s an opportunity to think. How to quickly refuel on board, such as gels, or ingest carbohydrates to replenish those fuel tanks during halftime or play breaks.

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“Next month we will pick up a different topic and go through the same process.

“Recovery is also a big part of my work. If you imagine the importance of the pyramid, sleep is probably its foundation. is.

“We try to make hydration a priority as soon as a player wakes up. It is possible to become mildly dehydrated during sleep, but waking up in the middle of the night and starting to drink is not an option. Not desirable.

“For example, in the morning, before their big toe hits the earth, they need to drink 500ml of water. One of the first signs of dehydration is general lethargy and fatigue. It’s the first basic behavior that needs to be instilled.”

Broadly speaking, the idea of ​​focusing on nutrition and its impact on performance and recovery in football, as well as many other aspects, is still in its early stages. “When I first started, I was there to help people lose weight. Now it’s about fine-tuning athletes,” Jones says.

As a result, his work is, at this stage, based on education. And to succeed in education, buy-in from the players themselves is required.

“The buy-in is huge,” he adds. “In the end, it comes from the relationships you build and the trust you build with your players.

“Behavior change requires three key ingredients: opportunity, motivation, and capacity. Opportunity comes from environment, education, and sometimes persuasion. Motivation is why you do it. Skills and shaping the environment to change their behavior.

“In the early days, I realized that, like litmus paper, I needed a strong philosophy that I could always come back to. My philosophy is simple, meaningful, and purposeful.

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Moyes says the club has acquired a player he feels can continue to challenge for the top of the Premier League, but warns it will take time to integrate into the squad.

“I was lucky enough to go and work with Flamengo in Brazil. Rather than talking about 30g of protein, we need to talk in food terms and say 1 chicken breast or 1 salmon fillet.

“Brazilian players just want to play soccer, so it has to be the language of soccer as well, and having carbs will allow them to run 10 minutes longer, and they will be able to play soccer 10 minutes longer.

“Recently, the impact of nutrition has become very important and appreciated. For example, in football in general, we have role models inside and outside clubs, such as Cristiano Ronaldo. There was a small but now people really understand the true impact of nutrition.

“Now I have 18-, 19-, and even 16-year-olds who come to me and ask me how I can eat better to improve their performance. You have more time to help because you instill new behaviors and new habits at a very young age will put them in a very good place in the future.

“It also came from ex-players becoming coaches. They started applying. They are the architects of culture.”

Interestingly, Jones’ work continues until the end of the day. “I love my job because my WhatsApp messages start around 4 p.m. to his 5 p.m. Good job!” he jokes.

Players are left to their devices as soon as they leave the training ground or stadium after a match. He often hires his private chef to prepare meals in the comfort of his own home.

Critical to reinforcing the work he and his colleagues did earlier in the day is his relationships with these individuals, which are often formed after hours.

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“They are such an important part of providing nutrition plans and interventions to our players that we are in direct contact most, if not most days, of the week.

“We have a list of club-approved chefs, but ultimately it’s up to the players because the chefs have specific dishes that they specialize in.” He’s a chef and literally goes to his house and cooks for him sometimes every night.

“Salmon is always a good option after a game as it is a great source of omega-3s that help reduce inflammation, pain and muscle damage. Polyphenols such as cherries, dark chocolate are also beneficial, and pomegranates.”

Ultimately, however, the additional work certainly contributed to greater profits.

This will be Jones’ fourth season working for the East London club, having finished 6th and 7th in the Premier League in the last two years.

“It’s great,” he adds. “I want to work as a member of the performance department and the medical department, work hard, and know that my efforts are making an impact.

“It’s very difficult to objectively quantify the work we do, so our performance on the pitch, both individually and as a team, is one of the best markers we have.”