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Nutritionists debate science behind Prince Louis' advice for England stars

  /  autty

He is the cheeky prince who has won the hearts of a nation with his mischievous behaviour at major royal events.

And now Prince Louis has stirred up a debate over how much food Gareth Southgate should allow his England squad to eat ahead of their Euros matches in Germany this summer.

Before the Three Lions set off from St George's Park yesterday, Prince William passed on some advice from his youngest son, telling the players: 'I was on the school run this morning with the children and I said 'What shall I say to the England team today?'

Having confided in his six-year-old son, he said: 'The best bit of advice I got [for] you was to eat twice the amount you normally would eat.

'So I then had visions of all of you running around with massive great tummies and loads of stitches on the pitch, so I think maybe take my youngest's advice with a pinch of salt.'

England Captain Harry Kane joked: 'I don't think our nutritionist will be happy'.

But Prince Louis appears to have left nutritionists divided, with one telling MailOnline that the royal was 'correct' with his advice, while another said it was 'endearing but more of a fairytale'.

Daniel Herman, a respected nutritionist and founder of Bio-Synergy, said: 'Having worked with elite footballers since the 90s, it is fair to say like other athletes the physical demands of training and match day will require additional calories, so Prince Louis' assessment is correct.

He added: 'Based on experience and studies, it is recommended that pre-match, footballers should consider loading up with complex carbohydrates to provide sustained energy and protein to assist with recovery.

'In fact many pro teams use protein powders and isotonic electrolyte drinks, which will mean an increased calorie intake, although compared to a training day, total calories are likely to be lower in total.'

However, nutritionist GQ Jordan told MailOnline: 'Prince Louis's advice to 'eat twice the amount you normally would eat' is endearing, but it's a bit more fairytale than football reality! While players need extra fuel on match days, doubling their usual intake isn't quite the way to go.

'High-performing athletes need a carefully balanced diet to keep them at the top of their game for performance and optimal recovery. This means the right mix of proteins, healthy fats, and carbs, but it's all about quality over quantity. Imagine trying to play a full match after a Sunday roast – not ideal!

'We've seen some interesting diets in football, like Alex Song's pre-match KFC and Jamie Vardy's caffeine-fuelled routine. And then there's Erling Haaland's 6,000 calorie feast and Ronaldo's six meals a day. But let's be honest, common sense tells us that if something sounds over the top, it probably is. These might be more about creating buzz than actual practice.

'So, while Louis's advice might not be 100 per cent correct, it does remind us how important good nutrition is in sports, and how leaving the advice to the experts is probably the best route for the best results.'

Mark Gilbert, a nutritionist for the 1:1 diet who has worked with top athletes, also waded in, telling MailOnline: 'Every player needs to eat to achieve their own specific goals, so Prince Louis' comment does have some truth in that some players may benefit from more muscle and power, needed more in some positions than others, so more food could be useful in this case.

'However, other players may need to improve their performance and endurance by getting a bit leaner – in which case they would benefit from fewer calories.'

He continued: However, I'd be very surprised if, at the level of international football, a player could have underestimated their calorie requirements by half, so, doubling food intake would not likely be a good idea.

'And, as Prince William also said, eating too much too close to the start of a game would likely reduce performance and cause issues with digestion.'

And Dr Richard Allison, former head of performance nutrition at Arsenal, said there was some truth to Prince Louis' suggestions, but that 'carbohydrate intake is not black and white' and should 'reflect your training load'.

Following Prince Louis' advice, MailOnline looks back at some of the most bizarre diets in football across the years.

70, 80s and 90s drinking culture

It's remarkable what footballers used to consume given the obsession with nutrition and sport science in the modern day.

Until the mid-1990s, Arsenal players were allowed to have a full English breakfast before training, while on one bus journey after a game, the squad held an eating competition which defender Steve Bould won after demolishing nine dinners.

Extraordinary photos from the past also show players tucking into burgers, cheese, cake and Chinese food.

Nowadays, footballers follow strict diets that usually consist of high-protein omelettes for breakfast, chicken and vegetables such as sweet potato for lunch, protein shakes and nuts for snacks and oily fish such as salmon or mackerel for dinner.

Before ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger arrived in England, there was more of a drinking culture among players.

Former England and Arsenal defender Tony Adams previously opened up about his own battle with alcohol before he turned his life around in 1996.

He once told talkSPORT: 'Drinking was very much in the culture at that point, in the late 80s and early 90s.

'All my mentors took me down the pub or took me to the bookies, that's what we did and I didn't need much dragging, let's just say that.

'It was like a light switch turned on for me. It was like, 'this is my world, this is unbelievable this stuff'. The way it surprised all my thoughts and feelings, it was like 'hallelujah!'.

'My life off the pitch was a complete mess but I took that drink and I was king for a day, it was like 'wow, fantastic!' But, like I said, I crossed the line and I couldn't get back.

'A lot of people were drinking heavily, not alcoholically, but drinking very heavily, and with me it was kind of hidden, it meant I could hide a lot of it. The human body at a young age can take a lot of abuse, and I certainly did that, but I still had a certain amount of talent. A lot of other players were drinking a lot as well, so it was like a level playing field in a way.'

He added: 'But then the foreign players came over with their different methods and it was kind of like 'shape up or we're all out of the game'. We couldn't keep drinking to the levels we did.'

Erling Haaland: The Norwegian attacker known for devouring cow liver and heart

He's the Manchester City superstar who has racked up 66 goals in 63 games since arriving in the Premier League two years ago.

But despite top clubs having access to some of the best nutritionists on the globe, 6ft4 Haaland appears to have found his own way of making sure he is primed for each match.

The striker was once described as a 'freak' who 'eats like a bear' by Norway team-mate Josh King.

While he enjoys traditional steak and chicken, it's believed he also munches on the hearts and livers of cows.

'Eating quality food that is as local as possible is the most important,' he said in the documentary Erling Haaland: The Big Decision.

'People say meat is bad for you, but which? The meat you get at McDonald's, or the local cow eating grass right there?'

The unusual dietary habits are part of the City man's 6,000 calorie-per-day diet.

Haaland is also partial to lobsters, duck and oysters and loves drinking milk, which he once described as his 'magic potion'.

Cristiano Ronaldo: The 38-year-old goal machine who eats six meals a day

Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo must be doing something right - as he remains one of the best footballers on the planet at the age of 38.

The powerful forward previously revealed that he doesn't believed in three meals a day, but instead prefers to have six.

He chooses to eat smaller meals at more regular intervals so that his energy levels are consistently high for his vigorous lifestyle.

It's believed the ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid star eats a lot of chicken which is high in protein and low in fat.

He also likes tucking into avocados, salad and fruit and favours water over Coca-Cola - as he demonstrated at Euro 2020 when he removed the fizzy drink from in front of him at a press conference.

Alex Song: The ex-Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder who used to devour KFC

Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song enjoyed a successful career in the Premier League with the Gunners and West Ham as well as over in Spain with Barcelona.

But one thing that shocked fans about the midfielder was when it emerged that he would eat a KFC before each game at the Emirates.

His former team-mate Emmanuel Frimpong told the Telegraph in 2018: 'Then there was Song, who used to go to KFC before every home game.

'On the bus to the team hotel the night before the game, he would be eating chicken nuggets.'

That's despite playing under former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who is often hailed as the man who revolutionised nutrition in football.

Being fuelled by KFC seemed to work for Song, as he earned himself a move to Barcelona after six years playing for the Gunners.

He only retired from professional football last November at the age of 36.

Brian Clough: The Nottingham Forest great who let his players have a drink before games

The late Nottingham Forest legend enjoyed some incredible success with a variety of measures that would definitely not be encouraged today.

Clough, who won two European Cups with Forest, allowed his players to enjoy a heavy boozing session before a big game.

On the eve of the club's 1979 League Cup final against Southampton, Clough got his players drunk and made them stay up until 1.30am.

Former Forest star Martin O'Neill revealed to the Nottingham Post in 2018: 'He (Clough) insisted we went down to the bar… then wouldn't let us go to bed.

'By around midnight Archie (Gemmill) was getting jumpy, asking the boss to let us go.

'We finally left the bar at 1.30am, Robbo (John Robertson) and I literally carrying Woody (Tony Woodcock) upstairs.'

Whatever he was trying to achieve seemingly worked as Forest went on to win 3-2 - and Woodcock scored one of the goals.

Clough, who also managed Derby, Brighton and Leeds after his playing career, also used to sometimes hand out beers in the team bus before a game.

Jamie Vardy: The lightning striker with a passion for caffeine

The Leicester and England striker is renowned for his love of energy drinks, especially Red Bull.

'I wake up in the morning and then [have a] Red Bull,' he said to Sky Sports in 2022. 'Literally, I get out of bed, get the kids up and downstairs, get their breakfast sorted, and then I'm straight into the Red Bull.

'After that, we meet at the stadium for pre-match and while I'm getting changed I'll have a coffee - it's better than taking ProPlus. Red Bull, coffee, and then when we get over to the pre-match lounge, I'll have my cheese and ham omelette with another can of Red Bull.'

During the 2015-16 season, the year Leicester sensationally won the Premier League title, the former England international had an incredible ritual.

He used to drink port wine, disguised in a Lucozade bottle, before every matchday.

'I can't say why it started, because I genuinely don't know, but I decided to drink a glass of port on the eve of every game in the 2015/16 season,' Vardy said. 'I'm not normally superstitious but from the moment I scored against Sunderland on the opening day, I didn't want to change anything.

'I fill a small plastic water or Lucozade bottle to halfway and just sip the port while watching television. It tastes like Ribena to me, and it helps me switch off and get to sleep a bit easier the night before a game.'

When Leicester secured promotion back to the Premier League this season, Vardy was pictured chugging champagne on the pitch.

Antonio Conte: The Italian manager who bans KETCHUP!

Antonio Conte's Napoli stars should be bracing themselves for change when it comes to diet.

The former Chelsea and Tottenham boss does not mess around when it comes to health and nutrition.

His players are banned from enjoying condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise as well as fast food in general.

When he arrived at Tottenham in 2021, he revealed why strict dietary requirements are put in place at his clubs.

He said: 'At Chelsea, it was the same - we spoke about the importance of eating well.

'At every one of the clubs that I trained I had a nutritionist and these aspects are important because you have to stay in the right weight and to do that you have to have the good fat and the good muscle.

'This is a part of our work now and the player's work - to be professional. To be professional means you have to take care of your body. If you do this, you recover well and you are at less risk of injury for sure. You are also ready to face the training if sometimes the training is hard.'