The below extract is from Neil Goodwin's material in the Level One Coaching course

Pétanque is not a contact sport but it can require endurance. Eight to ten hour days are not unknown at the National Championships and at the 2006 World's, one NZ team was playing until past 1:00 am.

In any endurance sport you do not want to be carrying excess weight so now is the time for you to critically evaluate your status using the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is an objective scientific measure derived by dividing your weight in kg by your height (cm) squared:

         Weight (kg)
  Height (cm) x Height (cm)

There a several good web sites that will do the calculation for you & analyse the result.

    below 20 = Under weight
    20---22  = ideal
    22---25  = good
    25---30  = marginal
    over 30  = unacceptable

BMI is not applicable to highly trained athletes who should use body fat percentage. However this cannot be measured accurately without special callipers. Acceptable body fat levels are: less than 30% for females, less than 25% for males. (

OK I'm over weight which of the multitude of diets do I try?

The most important item for anyone on a weight loss diet is: a set of scales that is accurate to 0.1kg and is used every day. Chart your weight in graph form against a target line set at a loss of about 2kg/month.

Diets are big money and fashionable, but currently there is much interest in the glycaemic index (GI). (

This is a diet that was originally developed for diabetics but is now being hailed as one of the cornerstones for the treatment of the obesity plague that is sweeping the developed world. There is no expensive book to buy or special foods to purchase so the costs are negligible. It is not a crash diet, try to loose four to five hundred grams a week.

Keep a high fluid intake. It is not a low anything diet but keeps a sensible balance of protein, fat and selected carbohydrates. A further advantage of this concept is that it also provides a guide as to which foods are appropriate for consumption when competing.

To switch to a low GI Diet:

There is an old biochemical adage that your fat burns in the flame of the carbohydrate. If you have a very low carb intake then you will burn protein stores instead and lower your immune levels. Athletes who over train and have an inadequate diet breakdown with colds, flu and viral infections for just this reason. Get onto the GI Diet and stay on it for a healthier life.

Food and Drink when Competing

Pétanque is a sport in which energy is expended at low levels, but over a long period. It therefore is included in the Aerobic group in which all the energy required can be obtained from the blood sugar, which in turn is replenished from the normal reserves of glycogen in the liver and muscles. Alternatively food taken in while competing can provide energy. However, it is important that sugar spikes are avoided and this is most easily done by taking low GI value foods.

The GI value is the comparison of the substance under evaluation to an equivalent amount of pure glucose in raising the blood sugar.

Glycemic indices are rated:

	up to 55    Low
	56 to 69    Mid
	above 70    High

Meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, stone fruits, vegetables (but not potatoes & some rices), beer, wine, spirits, milk products all have little or no carb content and are thus Low GI.

Sports and other drinks

Most of the major brands such as Gatorade (89), Poweraid (65), Fanta/Sprite (68) are in the mid to high range & are of value in Anaerobic sports such as athletics, football and marathon events. Coca cola at 53 is just inside the low range.

The Energy Drinks

These (Redbull, Powerhorse, V and Gofast) all contain caffeine, in amounts equivalent to a cup of coffee, and other mild stimulants (taurine, glucuronolactone, guarana, ginkgo, ginseng) that make them sound mysterious. None of them has a published GI value but in view of their high sugar contents are likely to be about 90. They are banned in several European countries, including France.

For pétanque events I suggest that you take your favourite orange or lemon squash, make up a dilution a bit below the recommended, and, if the day is very hot add the tip of a teaspoon of salt. The result will be about GI 50 & you will have saved the price of a new cochonnet per litre.

Tea, coffee, fruit juices (if no added sugar) and milk drinks are all low. With regards alcoholic drinks remember that we live in the times of Drug Free Sport & even one beer will put you over the legal limit (l0mg%).


Avoid the high energy power bars they are all high GI. Sandwiches made with appropriate bread and fillings such as cheese will rate about 55, as will that hot dog with onions & sauce.

Creamed rice is very popular at NZ events and has an estimated GI of 47. All the yoghurt variations are GI low. Nougat at 32 and chocolate at around 45 are acceptable but other candy sweets not.


The iconic cereals such as Weetbix, Cornflakes and Special K all rate high whereas the muesli variations are low. Baked beans, bacon & eggs are low on multigrain toast.


They are all banned? Yeah right! But interestingly there is one that has escaped so far: CHOCOLATE.

Eat it while you can; it contains:

If you want to check on your favourites there are several web sites including: that you can consult.

With any diet weight will only be lost when energy expenditure exceeds the caloric intake. Increasing you activity level is an obvious desirable during a weight-loss program. We all know this is most simply accomplished by walking or cycling in situations where we have become lazy and use our cars. But if you are really committed you need to work out at a gym for about an hour a minimum of three times a week.

Virtually every town in NZ now has a gym staffed, hopefully, by professionals who can advise on how to use their equipment. (A series of gym activities specially orientated to the sport of petanque will be in a future instalment.)

If you can?t or won?t go to a gym start by buying a swiss ball of appropriate size, almost all of those on sale have a basic instruction manual (or look at:

Other very useful items for everybody are dumbbells in the weight range of 2 kg to 10 kg.