All the breathing techniques, tree-hugging, and EFT tapping in the world couldn’t have prepared our nerves for the UEFA Women’s EURO semi-final showdown between Sweden (currently ranked second in the world) and England’s Lionesses last night.
Between Alessia Russo’s preposterously-spectacular back-heel goal, which left an entire nation awe-struck, and keeper Mary Earps’ outrageous, bum-clenchingly close save that otherwise would’ve scored Sweden their first goal of the game (not to mention the other three – yes, three – tremendous England goals from Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze and Fran Kirby), we had little hope of hanging onto any kind of calm. Totally worth it, though – our Lionesses have made it to the EURO final for the first time since 2009, and the Women’s Health team sure had a blimmin' good time being their self-elected hype gals along the way.
The final, against either Germany or France on Sunday 31st July, will pose new challenges for the team (though nothing our Lionesses can’t handle, if you ask us), so recovery and nutrition will be of big importance over the coming days, as they have throughout the entirety of the competition.
You know as well as we do – without ample fuel, we don’t stand a chance at performing (neither physically nor mentally) optimally. The same applies for England’s Lionesses.
Question is: what foods are they filling up on to facilitate such sensational performances on the pitch? Women’s Health got the scoop…
What 18 Lionesses eat before playing a match
1. Alessia Russo
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 6, 2022
Our superstar semi-final goal-scorer likes to keep things simple on match day.
‘I used to be really superstitious actually, but now I fell like I’m quite laid back with it all,' she says. 'I always have music on, so, as soon as I wake up I’ll put my music on. In the morning I like to have some porridge, and then just chill out, relax, watch something on TV, have some beans on toast.’
2. Nikita Parris
"It's unreal. What the staff have done, it's been amazing. Unbelievable facilities. Pitch, gym, relaxation room...and here!"
Good to connect, @lilkeets 🤝#Lionesses | @marksandspencer pic.twitter.com/gyIUyVHhvg
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 9, 2022
Pasta – full of carbs for energy – is a fan favourite amongst our Lionesses, including Nikita Parris. ‘Pre-match meal for me is pretty consistent and I usually go for a spag bol. We have a chef here, who’s amazing, Gareth, and he does an amazing job and keeps us all happy, which is very hard to do.’
3. Beth Mead
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 4, 2022
Beth Mead, top goalscorer in the Euros so far, likes to load up on protein and veggies on match day. ‘I’m a creature of habit, I actually have the same thing most mornings. I should mix it up probably, but I have an omelette, I put in peppers, spinach, mushrooms, tomato, and a little bit of cheese.’
4. Chloe Kelly
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 10, 2022
Chloe Kelly's preferred pre-game meal wins extra points for ease. ‘I always have jam on a bagel and some apple juice as well. So, I think that’s my go-to pre-match meal.’
5. Georgia Stanway
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 8, 2022
‘My pre-match meal, and it’s a little bit of superstition, but it’s got to be beans on toast. So, two slices of toast. But, sometimes, when we go abroad it’s really hard to get the beans and they end up being kidney beans, so, sometimes I have to go without, but, it is what it is.’
6. Jill Scott
"It's been good that we've been pushing each other because we know that the games are going to go to that next level." 💪@JillScottJS8 takes a seat in the Diary Room! 👏#Lionesses | @marksandspencer pic.twitter.com/goOu4dwG4Z
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 11, 2022
Lionesses legend Jill Scott likes to mix it up. ‘I usually have porridge every morning, but on game day I try and have an omelette. Or pasta, it depends – whatever I feel like having. I think that’s important so that you get fuel on board.’
7. Jess Carter
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 14, 2022
‘Pre-match meal is always a pasta of some sort, if it’s an evening game. It’s been a lot of carbonara. I think I’m going to turn into a carbonara by the end of this trip.'
Women's Health politely requests that Jess doesn't turn into a carbonara, so that she can remain a part of the England team.
8. Rachel Daly
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 15, 2022
‘Every single pre-match meal I have four Weetabix,' says Daly. 'Luckily, Gareth, the chefs, they bring it for me everywhere we go. That’s all I’ve ever eaten for the last few years, so it is my staple game day, pre-match meal.’
9. Lauren Hemp
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 17, 2022
‘Normally for breakfast I have an omelette which consists of ham, cheese, peppers, onions and a bit of spinach – that’s my go-to. I always try to make it at home, but it never works very well, so I always get it on camp and make the most of it.’
10. Lotte Wubben-Moy
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 18, 2022
‘Every morning, it’s kind of like a ritual for me now, I make my own coffee in my own room, come down to breakfast to join the team, and it’s there that I also have the same thing every day. Pretty boring. Banana, yogurt, muesli, a bit of peanut butter, some honey as well.’ Nothing about a yogurt bowl brekkie, if you ask us...
11. Ellen White
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 20, 2022
‘My pre-match, go-to meal essentially is porridge,' – a classic! 'Definitely one that I stick by. Porridge, berries, honey, getting me set and ready for the game.’
12. Ella Toone
All of us last night when that goal went in: pic.twitter.com/c7MFex3DHn
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 21, 2022
‘No matter what time kickoff is, I’ll always have a bagel, poached eggs, avocado, beans, and sometimes I like to put a bit of cheese on the beans. But, the chef’s so used to me now, so every time I come down for pre-match he’s like: “two poached eggs, Tooney?” Sorted.’ Two-egg-Tooney does have a bit of a ring to it, though...
13. Alex Greenwood
"I just thought: put your foot through it G." 👊@AlexGreenwood takes a seat in the Diary Room to look back at the last few days - including that goal! #Lionesses | @marksandspencer pic.twitter.com/AFWiIHdLYB
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 22, 2022
Porridge is ideal pre-match and pre-workout. It's nutrient-dense, and can be topped with all manner of fruits, nuts and spreads for extra fuel. It's also Alex Greenwood's go-to. ‘My go-to pre-match meal is porridge. Nice and simple. Gets me ready for the game – it’s something I’ve always stuck to having.’
14. Fran Kirby
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 23, 2022
‘My pre-match to get me fuelled for the games are always spaghetti carbonara. I love it and it gives you enough energy to play the game at a high intensity.’
15. Mary Earps
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 25, 2022
‘Match day for me is as chilled as possible, really. Just making sure I’m fuelling right, getting my body right. Thinking about what I’m focusing on during the game and giving my absolute all for the team.
Mary fuels up on protein, carbs and fibre before getting gloved-up. My pre-match meal is a bagel, baked beans and two poached eggs, with a little bit of pepper on the top.’
16. Demi Stokes
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 24, 2022
‘Pre-match meal, I always go for penne pasta, tomato, like, red sauce, chicken, broccoli, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, sometimes olives. And, I’m gonna stick a bit of banana bread in there as well.’ That's a game-winning meal, in our book.
17. Lucy Bronze
"I don't think the fans realise how much it means to us, what a difference it makes to us on and off the pitch."@LucyBronze pops by the Diary Room for a quick catch-up 😁#Lionesses | @marksandspencer pic.twitter.com/oQnkEqJryS
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 26, 2022
‘So, I don’t really have like rituals or like specific meals that I have to have,' Lucy shares. 'But this tournament, I guess because of the heat, it has been a little bit harder to take in the food and the energy that you need. So, I’ve just been trying to eat, like, it sounds really boring, but it’s just plain pasta with a bit of olive oil, a lot of salt and pepper. But, it’s just easy to digest on a game day.
'I think it was on a documentary. It was like Riyad pasta at Man City. So, I’m trying to get it named Lucy Pasta, but it’s not really working.’
18. Millie Bright
In a Jan 2022 interview with Healthy, Bright said: ‘I tend to have breakfast at home, but for a quick snack, I’d have Whitworths SHOTS – it’s healthy, gets the sugar in and a little pick-me-up before my session. I also have one after training, as it’s vital to get those nutrients in.'
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