“Nutrition is the fastest growing area, that is why more players are paying for their own care, because it’s that important,” says sports nutritionist and Uefa-qualified football coach Matt Lawson.
With the rise of sportspeople having their own personal chefs, meal plans and specifically tailored diets, Lawson is much in demand.
“Dietetics was not something I started out in, I was mainly interested in the human body, what happens to us day to day,” he explains.
“Through biology at school I found nutrition and that led to becoming a Registered Dietitian at the University of Nottingham. It is the gold standard of diet and nutrition service.”
Patriotic pride with Team GB
In what has been an established career in football already, Lawson has worked with Team GB, Notts County’s first team, Notts County Ladies and Doncaster Rovers.
“Working with Team GB is the highlight of my career without a doubt,” he says.
“People represent their country, for me to be involved — wow! I felt undeserving really. This is a special country and I love it deeply. Being a dietitian and helping people, being involved is what makes it worthwhile.”
‘Working with Team GB is the highlight of my career’
Lawson was also part of his boyhood club Notts County’s 22 match away-game unbeaten streak, an all-time club record, under manager Keith Curle.
“On top of that, winning Coach of the Year in 2016, for the Notts County Ladies team doing the cup and league double whilst taking my UEFA badges, it was something I was very lucky to be involved in. Really the players did it for me,” he says.
Following the release of his new book Recipes for Success Lawson believes sports nutrition is more important than ever.
“My book is all about working to simple recipes that we know help people in day-to-day life,” he explains. “Nutrition and the way we look at training is the main thing that drives performance.”
“The greatest change recently is the move towards technology. Now we measure urine, blood, sweat, diet, as well as weight, body fat and distance. More methods come around and we need to utilise them,” emphasises Lawson.
No more parties
Gone are the days of top-level athletes and sports people eating and drinking what they like, with Lawson claiming nutrition can be the vital factor to sporting success.
‘My book is all about working to simple recipes that we know help people, in day to day life’
“Footballers have changed, only very few get away with the party life. Most of them will get injured, football is paid well and there are sacrifices,” he states.
“Overall, I want the athlete to care about it, that is the main thing. We need to work with players to make them the best, continually improving. Nutrition impacts genetic and metabolic function, it is this that affects the very small margins between winning and losing.”
The future looks exciting for Lawson, who is aiming to expand his horizons both off the pitch in nutrition and on the pitch with coaching.
“I am developing my own football academy, nutrition consultancy and charity that can help people find a pathway into football,” he explains.
“We need more pitches for young people, especially women, and more joining the battle against diet-related ill health in our country.”