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Fuelling your game

Steph Chiocci on food, footy and finding balance

Steph Chiocci is one busy person.

The Collingwood captain, approaching her fourth season at the helm of the club, balances her full-time job as high school PE teacher with her elite football career.

Chiocci typically leaves home at 7am and during season, she’s lucky to be home before 11pm.

One of the key ingredients to staying at the top of her game – on and off the field – is having the right nutrition to fuel her busy lifestyle, Chiocci tells womens.afl.

“Organisation is key,” she says.

“I usually do a substantial grocery shop on Sunday leading into the week.

“I prepare my breakfast then – I usually eat Bircher muesli which can be prepared and kept in the fridge for a couple of days.

“My lunches are prepared after the training the night before, as they are usually a salad with some sort of tuna or meat.

“Having the food sources available makes it easier to meal prep, but it can be challenging to find the time.”

Steph Chiocci

Nutrition forms a large part of the 31-year-old’s training, with an emphasis on carbohydrates to fuel a tough training session and protein to help repair her muscles afterwards. 

Chiocci said she chooses foods that pack a nutrient-rich punch, like chicken and vegetable curry with rice, minced beef pasta bake, chicken and quinoa salads and her go-to spinach and ham pizza.

Growing up in an Italian family, pizza and pasta were staples of Chiocci’s childhood, so pizzas and pastas often feature in her diet.

“I grew up eating a variety of pastas and it’s one of my favourite meals,” she says.

“Pasta is full of carbohydrates which will fuel my body with energy for the match.”   

Chiocci takes her position as a role model seriously, both in the classroom and on the footy field. Having experienced the power of nutrition firsthand, she can share her learnings with students and the next generation of AFLW stars.

Athletes in the AFLW competition are often provided with meals after training and games, but before she joined Collingwood for the 2017 season, Chiocci felt the temptation of turning to takeaway after a long day.  

It’s why Chiocci is so passionate about the power of using food as fuel.

“I find it enjoyable discussing nutrition and the health benefits that come from fuelling your body,” she says.

“’I’m mindful of the food I consume when I am around the girls at the club.  

“It’s important that you are modelling good and elite behaviours, however, I’m a big believer in eating things in moderation and every athlete is different.

“You need to trust that the girls are doing everything they can to ensure their body is prepared for action, and if I can help support that in some way then I do.”

Steph’s Spinach & Ham Pizza

Cook Steph’s favourite pre-game pizza in just 20 minutes.

View the full recipe on Coles website >