Meal Plan For Football Players To Gain Muscle


This blog post contains tips and a sample meal plan for football players to gain muscle. The best sport nutrition plan for football players is made up of eating five or six small meals each day. You should try to eat at least five meals a day. This will give you a great amount of energy, strength, and stamina. It will also keep your metabolism moving quickly so your body can burn fat around the clock.

Table of Contents

Nutrition Plan for Football

Specific nutrient requirements are based on your body size and position. What works for one player may not be the best strategy for someone else. But, all players can benefit from the following guidelines:

Organize the food on your plate into a peace sign. Break your plate into thirds, placing a protein in one-third, a starch [rice, pasta, potato] in a second, and a fruit and/or vegetable in the last.

Consume at least three meals per day with snacks between. Try to eat every four hours. Your daily caloric total should range between 20 to 25 calories per pound of body weight.

Skipping breakfast is not an option, especially when you have early morning practice or lifting. If you’re not overly hungry, try a lighter alternative such as a milkshake, yogurt, cereal or fruit, or even a sports drink and sports bar.

Take breaks to rehydrate. Drink early and often to sustain performance. Consume fluids during training sessions, and follow these guidelines:

  1. Gulp, don’t sip.
  2. Swallow fluids; don’t spit.
  3. Drink, don’t pour on your head.
  4. Do not over drink. Don’t come to a training session with a gallon jug of water. Consume fluid as the guidelines suggest: 20 oz one hour before; and during, consume based on your sweat rate (see below).

Football is a game of strength, speed and stamina—so you need to eat enough carbohydrate to fuel your muscles and brain during activity. Every meal or snack should contain carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, bagels, tortillas, rice, pasta, quinoa, barley, potatoes, corn, fruit, vegetables, juice, crackers and pretzels. Likewise, you should also consume protein for muscle growth and a healthy immune system. Try eggs, jerky, nuts, peanut butter, baked beans, bean dip, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish/shellfish, tofu, low fat milk, yogurt and low fat cheeses. You can measure your daily protein intake using the following formulas:

Minimum grams: 0.6 x bodyweight [pounds] Maximum grams: 0.9 x bodyweight [pounds]

Pre-, during, and post-training guidelines

1 hour before

Drink 20 oz of a sports drink or water with a small amount of carbohydrates, such as a handful of pretzels or cereal or a granola bar Include some protein such as ¼ C nuts, a few pieces of jerky, an 8 oz low-fat yogurt, or 12 oz of low-fat chocolate milk


Drink enough fluid per hour based on your sweat rate, which you can determine with the formula below:

  1. 1. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. Try to weigh in wearing as little clothing as possible
  2. Keep track of the number of ounces of fluid you consume during exercise
  3. Subtract your post-exercise weight from your preexercise weight, then convert it to ounces [16 ounces to a pound, so if you lose 2 pounds during exercise, you have lost 32 ounces.]
  4. To get your hourly sweat rate, add the number of ounces of fluid lost to the number of ounces of fluid consumed. Divide the sum by the number of hours you exercised


  • Pre exercise weight = 190 pounds/ Post exercise weight = 187 pounds
  • Difference = 3 pounds [48 ounces]
  • Amount of fluid consumed during exercise = 20 ounces
  • Number of hours of practice = 2

48 + 20 = 68 ÷ 2 = 34 ounces of fluid required per hour

• Alternate between sports drink and water

15 minutes after

Replace sweat losses by drinking 24 ounces for every pound lost during practice. If you’re a salty sweater, consume a sports drinks and salty foods instead of sweet items. Try:

  • A high carbohydrate sports bar with 300 to 400 calories
  • A few pieces of jerky and a handful of pretzels
  • A peanut butter sandwich
  • 2 large handfuls of trail mix

Sample daily menu


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices whole-grain toast with butter or margarine
  • 1 slice ham
  • 12 oz low-fat milk or 8 oz yogurt
  • 8 oz juice
  • 12 oz water


  • Sandwich on a hoagie roll
  • 5 slices lean meat [e.g., turkey, ham, lean roast beef or a packet of tuna]
  • 1 slice cheese
  • 1 piece fruit
  • Crackers, pretzels or baked chips [2 handfuls]
  • A granola bar or a low-fat muffin
  • 12 oz water and 12 oz milk, juice or water


  • 8 to 10 oz lean meat, poultry or fish
  • 2C pasta, rice or potatoes, with some fat added
  • 2C vegetables (cooked or in a salad) with some fat added
  • 1C light ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, sorbet or pudding
  • 12 oz milk or juice

Evening Snack

  • Sandwich made with whole-grain roll or bread, 4 slices turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles
  • 20 oz water

Footballers Diet

Do you want to a footballers diet that will help fuel your body like a professional player?

Then you’re in the right place.

This page will break down all areas of football nutrition to give you the secrets to take your game to the next level. 

The best part?

These nutrition tips and fueling strategies can be implemented today and help improve your performance right away! 

So, are you ready to take your football diet more seriously?

Let’s get started!


What is football nutrition?

You will receive a basic introduction of the numerous topics covered by sports nutrition in this chapter.

Download our football nutrition guide with a 4-week meal plan if you want to avoid calorie counting and the hassle of meal planning.

In the past 10 to 15 years, the football nutrition sector has expanded quickly, and with it have the marketing messages from supplement and health product manufacturers.

There is widespread confusion due to the sheer volume of contradictory remarks you hear on the radio, in gyms, on TV, and on social media.

It’s necessary to understand all the topics that fall under football nutrition before we can clear up any of this misunderstanding.

The main nutritional considerations for football players are shown in this graphic. This can include topics like nutrient timing, supplementation, and preparation, as well as the ideal fluid intake required.

When talking about football nutrition, there are a lot of things to take into account, such as:

areas of football nutrition

Many people are unclear of where to start because of the vast world of performance nutrition, which may be daunting. We will thus make an effort to clarify football nutrition and outline how it affects performance.

What is the difference between Football Nutrition and nutrition?

The best place to start is understanding the difference between sports nutrition and normal nutrition.

However, the definition for Football nutrition is slightly different:


So football nutrition doesn’t look at what the body’s dietary needs are, but what you need to improve performance on the field and in training.

It doesn’t matter how you train or workout, you need to appreciate just how important sports nutrition is, as you can’t out exercise a bad diet.

Benefits of Football Nutrition

  1. Eating a healthy balanced diet helps to refuel your energy system, allowing you to train and play at a higher intensity for longer.
  2. Proper football nutrition can help you reach weight loss/gain targets.
  3. Eating the correct foods boosts your immune system, preventing colds and flu throughout the season.
  4. Proper fueling can dramatically improve your performance especially as you get to a higher level of football.
  5. Delays Fatigue – which is one of the ultimate goals of our workouts, so we can stay energised for longer
  6. Can protect you against injury
  7. Enhances our concentration levels – No matter what position you play in, you must concentrate for the full 90 minutes


So What is a Footballers Diet

This chapter outlines the key components of a footballer’s diet.

Download our football nutrition plan if you want a completely customized diet that can help you play better football right away.

In the past, players could have gotten by on talent alone, but specialists today recognize that nutrition is essential for success on the field. Competition intensifies as you advance from amateur to professional levels of play. To give yourself the maximum advantage over your opponent, you must therefore pay special attention to everything you put into your body. Your fuel intake has a significant impact on how you practice and perform during games. You must be aware of your personal dietary requirements and have a plan to satisfy them. Your diet should include a range of foods, such as:

The Best Footballers Diet Plan

First off:

  1. Your Footballers diet and training program should go hand in hand
  2. And there is no one size fits all diet for a player


You need a plan that is tailored to your needs as fuel requirements can and will change throughout the season.

So a premiership footballers diet plan would differ to a Sunday league player.

Planning your nutrition is as important as your on-field and gym training.

The best thing is:

Fueling your body correctly provides more gains from your exercise, so you get more out of the same amount of work. Or even better, you’ll have more energy to do more work in your training sessions.

Your diet needs to include:


Footballer Energy Needs

This chapter will explore the energy needs of a footballer and how energy needs differ per position.

Our football nutrition plan includes 4 weeks of meal plans to suit the energy needs of most footballers. Download now for all the benefits of a footballers diet.

What Type of Nutrition Do Players Need?

Carbohydrates give your body energy. Therefore… Carbohydrate-rich foods are crucial for athletes. For performance and recuperation, it is crucial to understand how much of these carbohydrates to ingest and when. See more below about this. Protein-rich diets are also crucial because they help muscles grow and heal. To promote muscle synthesis and prevent the body from using its own muscle for energy, it is best to ingest protein after a game or workout. Since protein shakes are quick and simple to make, most professional athletes consume them. Vitamins and minerals in little doses will support the correct functioning of your body. Another crucial component of your diet is fluid because when you perspire more, you lose fluid and need to replace it in order to function.

With all these great benefits its a wonder why players at all levels find it hard to maintain a balanced diet. We hear all sorts of excuses why players cheat on their diet. Here are some of the most common, see if any of them resonate with you:

  • “I can’t cook”
  • “I don’t know enough about healthy food and drink”
  • “There are no healthy options in my local supermarket or when i eat out”
  • “Nutritional information online is so conflicting and confusing”
  • “I can’t afford all of these healthy options”
  • “I don’t have time to prepare and eat healthy food every day”
  • “It’s hard to have the right food if we have a long away trip”
  • “I use a load of sports supplements to make up for it”

How Much Energy Do Football Players Need?

Football is an extremely difficult sport. Throughout the course of the game, you conduct a number of high-intensity sprints, jumps, tackles, and shots, all of which require energy.

The graph displays your energy use over the course of a game:


Depending on your position and degree of fitness, you will execute a sequence of movements with varying intensities throughout the course of a match.

Your body will use a lot of energy as a result of this mixture of low- and high-intensity labor.

A competitive match allows players to sprint up to 250 times.

These sprints place stress on your body’s anaerobic energy system late in games, which causes the muscles to tire or fatigue.

Low muscular glycogen levels are to blame for this (carbohydrates are stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen).

Your muscle fibers may stop contracting when these glycogen levels drop, which will make it harder for you to speed or do tricks.

Everything you consume will give your body energy, either for immediate use or to add to its energy reserves.

These energy stores are important as they contribute to:

  • Your body’s physique and size (muscle mass and body fat)
  • Your body’s exercise fuel (Carbohydrates stored in the liver and muscle)
  • Your overall bodily function

Your body will need extra energy (than your daily needs) on the days you have training or matches.

Also, your energy demands will be lower throughout the offseason or when injured. During these situations, you will need you to change your diet to cater for lower activity.

As energy needs vary between players, heavier or overweight player will need more energy to travel the same distance as a lighter player.


Macro and Micronutrients

This chapter will show you the best macro and micro-nutrients to include in your football diet.

Learn the exact amount of macro and micro nutrition you require in your diet with our bespoke football nutrition plan.

Carbohydrates for Footballers

Despite what you have heard, carbs are essential to a footballers diet, as they are the body’s main energy source.


Your body can only store a limited amount. So you need to plan daily for training and non-training days, to ensure you have fuel for exercise and for recovery.

Guidelines for carbohydrate intake for football players:

Immediate Recovery

  • 0-4 hours after matches or training: Eat 1g of Carbohydrate, per kg of your body weight, per hour.

Daily Recovery

  • After low-intensity football training: Eat 5-7g per kg of your body weight per day

Heavy Endurance Recovery (pre-season)

  • Eat 7-10g per kg of your body weight per day

Fueling for a match

  • Eat 7-10g per kg of your body weight per day

These are general guidelines. You should assess your energy levels after exercise to see if these suggestions work for you.

High Carbohydrate Meal Ideas

When choosing Carbohydrates, you are looking for options with a moderate to high glycaemic index (GI). These will be the basis for all of your recovery meals. If you are playing an evening game or an away match, make sure you eat the required amount before your set off on your journey home. This will ensure your recovery process isn’t delayed.

Check out our carbohydrates guide for a more detailed look at how much carbohydrates a player needs before, during and after matches.

Protein For Footballers

There are a huge variety of protein foods and products on the market, so their no excuse for not hitting your daily proteins needs. 

Amino acids in protein help: 

  • Your metabolism
  • Build and repair muscle
  • The function of your body by building hormones and enzymes
  • Energise the body

On days when you perform resistance training, your protein needs can increase by up to 70%. 


Having a planned diet of nutrient-rich foods will enable you to reach your desired protein needs without supplementation. 

Overconsuming protein will not help in your training gains and will become expensive, so be sure your diet is balanced and not a high protein diet. 

Timing is key…

Protein consumption is more about when rather than how much. 

Research suggests that 20-25 grams of high-quality protein taken straight after exercise can combat protein breakdown and increase muscle growth and repair.

But remember…

You should always look to get your protein needs from nutrient-rich food. However, if you need an extra top up, then some sports bars or liquid meal supplements can be an adequate alternative. 

Although these compact protein options can be very expensive.

Here are some high protein meal ideas: 

Vitamins, Minerals, and Anti-Oxidants

The best sources for all of your nutritional needs are nutrient-rich foods. Such as:

  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Unsaturated oils
  • Lean meats

Football Players must have adequate amounts of the below for optimum performance and health:

  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamins A, C,E, B6 and
  • B12

You should be able to obtain the necessary amounts of vitamins and minerals from your daily diet, just like you can with proteins and carbohydrates.


You run the danger of falling short of the suggested levels if you:

Avoid prolonged eating or drinking if you want to reduce weight.
You consume nutrient-poor meals with little variation in your diet.

You could occasionally be unable to buy fresh, nutrient-dense food, or your body might just be deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral.

You might require a secure supplement in these circumstances to make up for these deficiencies.

Multivitamin and mineral supplements are the most popular supplements.

If you have a particular nutritional deficiency, you could additionally need a more specialized nutrient supplement.

Antioxidant Nutrients for Footballers

Antioxidants are more necessary for the body during football practice and games. When you exercise or train, certain antioxidant substances protect the body’s tissues. Your body will develop all the defenses it needs after intense exercise if you consume a balanced diet. However… Supplements with antioxidants are occasionally utilized for any minimal deficiency.

4 Ways to consume more nutrients:

  • Try new recipes and food often
  • Try to always eat foods that are in season
  • Mix up your diet and explore different foods
  • Include vegetables and fruits in every meal

A simple way to ensure you receive the right fruit and vegetables each day is to make sure you eat natural colours. Try to make sure you are always eating colourful food with every meal:

How much calcium should a footballer consume?

It is very important that you have healthy strong bones to compete at any level.

The best nutrient to look after your bones is calcium.

Found in dairy products, adult players should try to consume three servings of calcium per day. Whereas, younger players will have an increased requirement during their growth and development.

Some great natural sources of calcium are:

  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Milk
  • Spinach and Kale
  • Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes
  • Orange Juice
  • Soybeans


Nutrient Timing

It’s crucial to time when you consume nutrition. The various nutrient timing stages will be highlighted in this section to help your performance and recuperation.

Our nutrition plan will provide you with information on the finest foods to eat at the right times of day to enhance performance, hasten recovery, and prevent injury.

Knowing when and what to eat can offer you an advantage over rivals. Professional footballers are aware that food and exercise are essential for enhancing power, strength, and body composition.

So what is Nutrient Timing?

Nutrient timing is knowing what to eat before, during and after training and matches.

These specific timings help players at all levels gain an advantage in their performance and recovery.

There are 3 key phases in Nutrient timing:

The Energy Phase – This is just before training and matches
The Anabolic Phase – This is 45 minutes after the match or training
The Growth Phase – This period covers the rest of the day

What is the Energy Phase?

Muscle glycogen is the main source of fuel during a match. When these glycogen levels are low, you cannot perform at a high intensity and muscle fatigue kicks in.


The Energy Phase is a crucial time for players to top up their glycogen levels and prepare for the match.
During this phase:

  • Cortisol levels increase
  • Muscle glycogen levels are depleting

So the aim of this phase is to deliver more carbohydrates and protein to the muscles.

This will lower muscle damage and aid in a faster recovery.

Once the match has finished, we move into the Anabolic Phase of nutrient timing.

What is The Anabolic Phase?

This phase is the most important phase for a players recovery and injury prevention.

Eating nutrients within 45 minutes after a match is far more effective than 2-4 hours after a game.

Feeding our muscles will provide now will:

  • Maximise gains in strength
  • Increase muscle endurance gains
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Repair muscles

Carbohydrates are essential to the body within this 45-minute window, resulting in a faster uptake of glycogen storage and muscle recovery.

The Growth Phase

What good is all the training and playing if your body isn’t improving?

The 18-20 hours after a match is when your muscles recovery repair and grow.

Eat a meal comprising both carbohydrates and protein within 1 to 3 hours after your training or match.

Aim for high glycaemic carbohydrate meals as these meals are digested quicker and improve your glycogen stores uptake.


What Do Footballers Eat For Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This section will provide a brief overview of what foods you should take on in the morning to help fuel your training and game. 

Download our football nutrition plan for a list of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, pre match and post match meals.

Footballers Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

After 8 hours sleep, your body is in a fasted and dehydrated state, so you need to fuel as soon you as you.

Missing this important meal will have negative effects on your training and match performance.

Studies show that consuming breakfast had both mental and physical benefits, which can be transferred to a footballers training plan.

A footballers breakfast should consist of around 600 calories (depending on your daily needs). These calories should be:
50% Carbohydrates such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grain Cereal
  • Whole Grain Bread

25% Protein / 25% healthy fats
Pick foods with containing both such as:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seed
  • Peanut Butter
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Meat

As soon as you wake you should drink a glass of water to rehydrate, followed by a second glass as you eat breakfast.

If you struggle drinking just water, you can flavour with some fruit slices, lemon, or berries in ice cubes work great.

Eating whole fruit in the morning is great and has benefits over just drinking fruit juices including:

  1. Contains fiber which helps with digestion
  2. Antioxidants in pulp and skin.

It is also a great idea to have a hot drink for breakfast. Green tea, Black tea, and coffee help prevent disease and boost the immune system. Plus Caffeine:

  • Provides energy
  • Promotes endurance
  • Enhances Metabolism


Matchday Diet Plan For a Footballer

This chapter will show you how you should eat on a matchday for optimal performance. 

If you want an easy to follow footballers nutrition plan then try our football nutrition ebook and 4 week plan. 

Your matchday nutrition should be considered an extension of an ongoing healthy diet. Therefore you must ensure that you eat foods throughout the week that will help improve your performance come matchday. On the day of the match you must take on foods that will get your body and mind right for the game. And this starts from the moment you get out of bed…Start the day off with 500ml of water.

Matchday Breakfast for footballers

As we just established, breakfast is the most crucial meal of the day, and matchday is no exception. Porridge is a favorite morning food among athletes since it releases energy gradually. Try changing up your porridge every week by adding different fruits, such as banana, blueberries, or honey, to keep your taste buds from getting bored. Add a small amount of semi-skimmed milk (as much as you like), since this will help to maintain the health of your bones. If you don’t like oatmeal, a high-protein egg-based breakfast is a wonderful alternative for athletes. To ensure you have a pre-match breakfast menu every season, a great choice of recipes for scrambled, poached, or omelettes with a variety of toppings are available. However, since these are complex carbohydrates, always prefer rye or wholemeal bread over white bread. On a matchday, stay away from foods high in fat, fiber, or weight. You should eat things that are simple to digest and won’t make you feel lethargic.

Matchday Lunch for Footballers

Your lunch choice, if any, will be greatly influenced by your kickoff time. Our football nutrition plan includes further information on this. For a kickoff at 3 p.m., though, you should strive for a lunch that is well-balanced and simple to consume. Once more, you should try to eat items that are low on the glycemic index chart, including whole grains and bread. Along with healthful vegetables, this dish can also include protein-rich items like fish and pork. Along with your meal, sip 750 ml of water.

Pre Match Nutrition for Footballers

The 60 to 90 minutes before to a game are a terrific opportunity to recharge your batteries before the game. This is an excellent opportunity to drink more water and top off your glycogen stores. Sports beverages work well for this. Fruits like a banana or an apple can be consumed to offer you an extra energy boost, depending on how hungry you are.

Halftime Nutrition for Footballers

Your major goal with your halftime refueling is to replenish the fluids and energy you lost throughout the first half. As a result, you should try to consume sports drinks that include quickly absorbed carbs. The body can quickly absorb this, and they can start replenishing lost minerals and energy right away.

Post Match Nutrition For footballers

Your recuperation process starts as soon as the game is over. You must replenish the energy you’ve expended while also healing your muscles. Protein and carbohydrates both have a role in this. We go into more detail about this in our football nutrition plan, but the quantity you need to consume depends on your size and degree of exercise. However, you should have 3g of carbohydrates for every 1g of protein.


What do footballers drink?

This chapter will go over some of the key areas of staying properly hydrated throughout the day. 

If you want to learn know how to hydrate to combat your sweat rate and improve your performance the download our footballers diet nutrition plan. 

Hydration Tactics

Staying hydrated is key for any footballer. This can be the difference between performing your best, running our of energy or even getting injured.

So its important for players to understand how to hydrate and know when they fully hydrated.

Staying hydrated doesn’t just mean drinking water after a match. Their is a science involve to making sure you plan out what and when you drink.

A proper hydration plan will enable you to know:

  • Your daily hydration needs
  • How to test for dehydration
  • How to calculate you sweat rate
  • The best hydration drinks for each situation
  • The best hydration supplements


Footballers’ Supplements

Some of the most important aspects of maintaining sufficient hydration throughout the day will be covered in this chapter.

Our football nutrition guide offers a thorough overview of safe supplements for players, outlining each supplement’s advantages and daily dosage recommendations.

In the modern game, sports pills are becoming more and more common.

Players look for any chance to acquire a legal advantage over their rivals as the speed and level of competition rise.

Supplements can help to give players that advantage by:

  • Providing energy
  • Helping the body use this energy
  • Improving recovery
  • Improving focus
  • Help with weight management
  • Improve immune system
  • Reduce risk of injury
  • Build and repair muscle
  • Prevent Disease
  • Decrease pain in muscles
  • Decrease fatigue
  • Improve endurance
  • Improve oxygen and nutrient delivery
  • Remove CO2 and acidity from your body
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve joint health

To find out more about our safe supplements from protein to fish oil, the rules of supplementation in football and the AIS supplements classification check out our supplement guide.

Here’s a quick look at how Reading FC have added Science In Sport nutritional products to their football diet.


Foods Every Footballer Should Eat

The following is a list of foods that you should start adding to your shopping list today.  

Find out how you can include healthy foods like these to your diet to improve your healthy, energy, recovery and performance. 

1. Milk

Milk is essential to your recovery after training and matches. Its high protein content helps to repair muscles and instigate the recovery process. As if that wasn’t enough, the calcium in milk helps to build healthy bones and teeth.

2. Avocados

One of the most popular superfoods around nowadays is the Avocado.They are high in fiber and healthy fats, which help to keep your body functioning and gut healthy.Avocados are a superfood because they contain the following nutrients:

  • Copper
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B5
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamins K
  • Zinc

These nutrients provide many health benefits, such as: maintaining a healthy immune system, produce hormones and aid in normal growth and development – three vital factors to aiding recovery and boosting performance out on the football pitch.

3. Chia Seeds

These tidy low calorie seeds are full of vital nutrients which help performance and recovery.They are high in:

  • Protein
  • Omega 3
  • Fiber
  • Calcium

Sprinkle them onto yogurt, soak them in almond milk for a delicious and nutritious drink.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are another superfood that is gaining prominence. These are not only fantastic to include in your post-workout recovery, but they are also easily found in any store and delicious both on their own and when combined with many other dishes. Football diet plan has some fantastic dish ideas (check it out). The largest concentration of antioxidants of any common fruit is found in blueberries, which can help lower the amount of free radicals your body produces while you exercise. They have little calories but are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. In addition,

  • Protect against and prevent ageing
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help prevent heart disease
  • Improve memory and help maintain brain function
  • Reduce muscle damage after intense training

5. Broccoli

The enormous amount of nutrients included in broccoli make it a superfood without a doubt. It has more vitamin C per pound than an orange, which aids players in preventing oxidative stress and the buildup of free radicals in their bodies. While the vitamins A and K in steamed broccoli enhance your body’s absorption of vitamin D, the high fiber content helps prevent the buildup of harmful cholesterol in your blood. The anti-inflammatory advantages of broccoli are also fantastic for athletes and anyone who engages in intense activity. To make sure you consume the correct quantity of broccoli, you may add it to numerous recipes and salads. If you prefer to juice your vegetables, consider adding a few stems to your morning green smoothie to start enjoying the health benefits right away.

6. Beetroot

Although beet juice is now classified as a supplement that improves performance, we believed it was vital to include raw beetroot in this list as well. It is simple to include into a variety of recipes, delicious, and reasonably priced to purchase. Among the benefits of beetroot for performance are:

  • It reduces inflammation
  • Provides energy
  • Improves recovery
  • Helps with mental focus
  • Boosts your stamina level

7. Oily fish

Wild caught oily fish like Salmon are packed with healthy fats that provide many benefits for total bodily function. The Omega 3 in these types of fish help to:

  • Reduce inflammation, which allows your to return to training sooner and train more often
  • Improve your immune system
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Helps reduce anxiety and stress
  • Eases joint and bone aches and pains
  • High in protein which helps to repair and build muscles.

It is suggested that you eat oily fish twice a week to ensure you provide your body with enough Omega 3 (add broccoli to your dish for added Omega 3 benefits).

8. Coconut Water – Mother Natures Sports Drink

Coconut water is among the greatest liquids to bring on a flight. It not only keeps you hydrated but is also packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help with recovery and athletic performance. Coconut water helps the body naturally rehydrate after matches because it contains few calories. Given that it contains four times as much potassium as a banana, it can benefit any player whose diet is deficient in this mineral. Coconut water might irritate your stomach if you consume it in excess, so be careful not to. It cannot take the place of water.

Our website only offers information and educational materials to readers; it does not take the place of medical advice from licensed healthcare professionals. When engaging in fitness, training, or dietary programs, you must always seek the advice of a trained healthcare expert.


The different diets of football players

Football is referred to as the “king of sports” and is played by kids, teenagers, and people of all sexes. Evidently, there are many different levels at which it is played, from the friendly pachanga between friends to the international contests in which top athletes compete.

diferentes competiciones

The advice that can be gleaned from this article about footballer nutrition is difficult to generalize. It is also challenging to combine all the suggestions into one because of the physical contrasts between Jordi Alba of FC Barcelona and Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich. Even the season must be taken into consideration while making distinctions.

diferencias físicas

Differences can also be wide within the same group of players. For example, there may be a midfielder who has run an average of 12 km of which almost a third has been at high intensity, while his teammate may have a 10 km total with 2 km at high intensity.

For which type of player is this advice valid?

This text may be helpful for those who compete in lower divisions as well as for parents. In general, we will try to refer to nutrition for football players who play at least one game per week and have a minimum of two training sessions (training sessions like those of the FC Porto Dragon Force school within the Soccer Interaction academy).


Nutritional strategy to recover from fatigue

Football is a highly intermittent sport that requires high endurance since it involves running at a high intensity and performing extremely particular motions. Actions requiring maximum effort are followed by periods of jogging or walking during which active or passive recuperation occurs. This demonstrates that numerous metabolic pathways contribute to the production of energy.

On average, more or less, during the 90 minutes of a match, outfield footballers (all except the goalkeeper):

  •  Travel a total of between 9 – 13 km on average.
  •  They perform a total of approximately 1350 playing actions (including changes of direction every 4 – 6 seconds).
  •  They execute about 220 high-speed runs, reaching speeds of around 32 km/h.
  •  On average, approximately 1100 kcal are expended.

All these numbers will obviously be increased in matches that need extra time and have a 120-minute time limit.

All of these efforts will result in a partial (or complete) depletion of glycogen reserves, dehydration, and hyperthermia, which may be associated to the beginning of weariness. In reality, it has been noted that the amount of sprints, high-intensity runs, and distance traveled are fewer in the second half, particularly in the final 15 minutes, which makes perfect sense.

To strive to stand out from the competition and win, finding techniques aimed at lessening this tiredness will be essential.

When planning a diet before a game, elements other than metabolic needs or energy requirements will be crucial, including the venue, the time allotted for meals, and the players’ personal preferences.

Carbohydrates the footballer’s fuel

If we talk about the “star” nutrients in terms of fuel for football, it would be carbohydrates.


Sugars, starches, and fibers are known as carbohydrates and can be found in a wide range of foods, including fruits, cereals, vegetables, and dairy products. Because they are chemically composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, they are known as carbohydrates.

One of the fundamental food groups, carbohydrates are essential for maintaining good health and preventing harm. They are macronutrients, one of the three basic categories of compounds that the human body uses to produce energy or calories. Since the body is unable to create any macronutrients on its own, they must all be received through nutrition.

The body receives glucose from carbohydrates, which is then transformed into energy and used for both maintaining biological functioning and physical activity.

hidratos de carbono

The difference between good and unhealthy carbohydrates for footballers

The healthiest sources of carbohydrates are unprocessed or minimally processed carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and grains.

The least healthy sources include white bread, cakes, sugary soft drinks and other highly processed or refined foods. Thus we can distinguish according to the ”blood glucose spike” between:

Table 1. Different glycaemic indices in different foods.

During the match, carbohydrate balance must be maintained.

Knowing this, we must find a balance between eating enough and preventing potential gastrointestinal issues during the conference that could emerge from high intakes.

Studies on top-level athletes, like this one by Lian Anderson, have shown that although the need for energy and carbohydrates increases on match days, the stress brought on by the actual game or potential travel requirements for the players changes the eating pattern, making it difficult for the need to adapt.

Infografía 1: Tomada de Jeukendrup A.

What kind of carbohydrates to eat before a match?

Although there are studies for and against having a high-carb lunch before exercise, as there are in practically every area of nutrition, the weight of the data is in favor of this theory.

Perhaps to the surprise of many, numerous studies have suggested that carbohydrates consumed prior to exercise should have a low glycaemic index because they have been shown to maintain blood glucose levels for a longer period of time than carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index, as well as to promote greater use of fat as fuel, protect glycogen stores, and delay the onset of fatigue.

Low glycaemic carbs are advantageous as a pre-workout meal since they ostensibly delay the onset of hunger.

These findings suggest that it is best to eat foods that have low glycaemic carbs, which should be consumed 2-4 hours before the game.

What other foods should I eat for the match?

In contrast, as we stated at the outset, explosive efforts necessitate the breakdown of glycogen (carbohydrate stores in the muscle and liver) and phosphocreatine for the quick creation of ATP in order to fulfill the demands of the game or training (energy). This is crucial since it is well recognized that using fat as the major fuel, in this case coming from the consumption of low glycaemic index carbs, cannot meet the needs of high intensity exercise in a timely manner.

Undoubtedly, striking a balance between high and low glycaemic carbohydrates will be vital to achieve:

 – Starting with maximum glycogen stores.
 – Maintain adequate blood glucose levels throughout the match.
 – Avoid the onset of fatigue in the final stretch of the match.
 – Reaching the recommended carbohydrate amounts without causing discomfort.

What other foods should I eat in the following days to recover?

In order to achieve this, the recovery strategy after each match and training session will be very important, as we will see below, especially when there is little time (2 – 3 days) between matches.


As a general rule, it is advised that the athlete’s glycogen stores should be taken into consideration while choosing a carbohydrate (low or high glycaemic index). That is, if the appropriate amounts of carbohydrates were not ingested following the previous game or a string of rigorous training sessions to ensure the replenishment of stores, high glycaemic carbohydrates may need to be stressed in the pre-game meal.

It has been found that even if there isn’t enough time (around 3 hours between meals and matches) for the liver and muscle stores to recover, eating high-glycaemic carbs can boost them by 11–15% whereas doing the same with low-glycaemic carbohydrates does not. On the other hand, considering the advantages outlined above, moderate-low glycaemic index carbohydrates served as a pre-game meal can be a very good option if post-match/post-training recuperation has been sufficient. In light of this, the following are some possibilities to think about:

A fundamental question to be asked by the athlete: What should and should not I eat?

  • 4 hours before training: Meal should contain carbohydrates + protein and very little fat, e.g. pasta or rice with chicken breast and steamed vegetables.
  •  3 hours before training: Meal should contain carbohydrates + protein, e.g.: hot-cakes with honey and turkey breast + 1 cup of light milk.
  •   2 hours before training: Meal should contain carbohydrates + low protein, e.g. turkey breast sandwich, fruit with light yoghurt and granola or oatmeal.
  •   1 hour before training: Meal should contain carbohydrates, e.g. low-fat cereal bar, jam sandwich, fruit with oatmeal and honey.
     Avoid: fats, fibre, irritants and foods that are difficult to digest, fried or breaded foods and whole grains, sauces, spices or condiments.

Is it good to consume something at half-time during football matches?

A drop in energy owing to a depletion of glycogen stores, which results in a decrease in distance traveled, intensity, and reaction time, is another issue that a football player encounters during every game. Because of this, it’s crucial to consume hydrates during the game, such as isotonic beverages, gels, gummies, etc., with game breaks and rest periods serving as ideal moments to do so.

Based on the available data, we can conclude that drinking electrolytes and carbohydrate-enriched beverages (6% concentration, or 6g of sugars per 100ml) during a game gives distinct advantages over drinking water, such as better sprint speed, motor abilities, and even mood in the closing minutes. These advantageous outcomes were also seen in patients who began their studies with healthy pre-exercise glycogen levels.

Based on the available data, we can conclude that drinking electrolytes and carbohydrate-enriched beverages (6% concentration, or 6g of sugars per 100ml) during a game gives distinct advantages over drinking water, such as better sprint speed, motor abilities, and even mood in the closing minutes. These advantageous outcomes were also seen in patients who began their studies with healthy pre-exercise glycogen levels.

Since glycogen has been mentioned so many times in this essay, I’m sure you can predict where the recovery plan will focus. Indeed, it will be crucial to speed up the healing of muscle damage from the match and the player’s rehydration in order to ensure that the player’s valuable muscle and liver glycogen stores are restored and fully functional for the next encounter. When games are played a few days later, this is very crucial.

This is crucial since the rate of glycogen recovery is higher in the first two hours following exercise, and delaying carbohydrate and fluid consumption past this point may jeopardize the replenishment of stores. Therefore, it should be advised for football players to eat or drink replenishment items as soon as feasible following the final whistle.

Diets or food choices

The general recommendation for carbohydrate intake within the first 4 hours after a match is between 1 – 1.5 g/kg bw/hour, preferably taken frequently (every 30 minutes) rather than over longer periods of time and which are also of a high glycaemic index. Similarly, the addition of 0.2 – 0.5 g/kg wt protein to carbohydrate can improve glycogen resynthesis and enhance muscle damage repair (Ranchordas et al., 2017). Generally speaking, a 60kg person should take in 60g-90g of carbohydrate and 18-30g of protein.


50g diet
Food options for 50g of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates. Extracted, translated and modified from Ranchordas et al., 2017.

– 250-350 ml of milk shake or fruit smoothie
– 2 slices of bread/toast with jam, banana or honey.
– 2 cereal bars
– 300g stuffed jacket potato
– 2 carbohydrate gels
– 700-800ml sports drink
– Fruit salad with 200g of yoghurt
– Sandwich with meat filling
– Sports bar
– Rice pancakes
– Stuffed wrap pancakes
– Medium popcorn bowl
– Medium sweet potato bowl
– Medium thin-bottomed pizza
– Panini

10g protein diet
Easily digestible food options that provide 10g of protein for the immediate recovery phase. Extracted, translated and modified from Ranchordas et al., 2017.

– 300ml milk or milk shake
– 20-30g protein-enriched sports bar
– 10-15g whey protein powder
– 200g Greek yoghurt
– 250g low-fat custard

how to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort?

An important aspect is to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort from large carbohydrate intakes, for which multi-transporter carbohydrate mixtures (glucose : fructose, maltodextrins : fructose, etc.) are very useful, as we have already seen in the article on gastrointestinal discomfort.

Recommendations for playing 2-3 matches per week

Beyond post-match, the carbohydrate recommendation for the overall day in peak match weeks (2-3 matches/week) is around 6-10 g/kg bw/day, which is recommended to be consumed in 3-4 main meals supplemented by frequent snacks.

The truth is that unlike carbohydrates, there is little written about fat and protein requirements for football players. However, some authors (Ranchordas et al., 2017) recommend protein intakes of between 1.5 – 2 g/kg body weight per day, with fat accounting for the remaining energy until the requirements are met. In addition, they recommend spreading these proteins over several intakes (about 6 x 20 – 25g protein; total 120 – 150g protein/day) every 3 hours.

As for post-match, the same authors say that introducing a small amount of protein (40g is sufficient) is beneficial to maximise muscle protein synthesis and mitigate muscle damage. If you look at a 75 kg footballer, an intake of 35-40g of protein would be approximately 0.5g/kg of weight, so it would meet the recommendation to maximise glycogen reloading.

Specific recommendations for high-performance or professional athletes

On the other hand, it is difficult to find specific recommendations on the amount of fats to be consumed by these athletes, as they are usually simply the energy remainder of the carbohydrate and protein intake. If we analyse a compilation of articles collected by Holway & Spriet in 2011, in which the dietary intakes of more than 300 professional and semi-professional footballers were collected, we see that the daily percentage of energy corresponding to fat is, in the vast majority of cases, between 25-35%.

Dehydration is the key

As in many other sporting disciplines, it has been repeatedly observed that footballers exhibit some degree of dehydration even before the start of a match or training session (Holway & Spriet, 2011; Maughan et al., 2007). Given the clear relationship between dehydration and factors such as fatigue or the onset of cramps, controlling fluid intake will be of equal or greater importance than adjusting macronutrients.

Imagen 1. Consecuencias de la deshidratación en futbolistas.

In addition to water loss, one of the main causes of muscle cramps and spasms is the loss of sodium through sweat.


This will depend very much on the sweat rate and salt losses of the individual player, which can vary from less than 1 g to more than 10 g. In cases where there are large sweat losses, drinks providing between 20 – 25 mmol/L sodium can be really helpful (Maughan et al., 2007).


It has been observed that the consumption of about 600 ml of water or sports drink 30-45 minutes beforehand leads the athlete to a good state of hydration (Holway & Spriet, 2011).

Stress and climate to consider

Other factors that will affect an athlete’s hydration status include match day stress, which may alter normal fluid intake patterns, and if the match is played in hot climates with high humidity.

Rehydrate at half-time

A simple strategy to try and control hydration levels during the match is to ensure that approximately half a litre of sports drink is consumed at half-time.


Rehydration is particularly important during post-match recovery, especially if the next match is to be played within a few days or if we are talking about double training days. Obviously, the composition of the drink used will influence the rehydration capacity, with the recommendation (Heaton et al., 2017) being to consume between 1 – 1.5 L of drink per kg of weight lost, containing 20 – 50 mmol/L (Heaton et al., 2017; Ranchordas et al., 2017) and 6 – 12% carbohydrates.


What it is advisable to drink to rehydrate yourself

In addition to replacing the principal electrolyte lost through perspiration, sodium also makes drinks more palatable and increases thirst, which, along with its capacity to encourage fluid retention, makes it a crucial component of replacement drinks.

In terms of carbohydrates, we must keep in mind that drinks with higher concentrations (10–12% carbohydrates) are more likely to result in gastrointestinal discomfort. This problem can be resolved, for instance, by combining carbohydrates from different transporters, as was mentioned above, by adding high molecular weight carbohydrates, or just by consuming drinks with more moderate concentrations and that have been tested beforehand.

Given its lack of electrolytes and carbs, water is a poor choice for rehydrating.

As previously indicated, there are various ways to give fluids and carbohydrates, such with sports drinks, gels, water, and natural fruit.

Muscle cramps and a decline in the player’s effectiveness throughout the match can both be avoided with proper hydration and electrolyte replacement during play. Since they are tightly correlated with both the environment’s temperature and the individual player, hydration losses are challenging to estimate. To properly hydrate, athletes must learn to recognize their normal level of perspiration.

  • Sports drinks provide energy, electrolytes and hydration. They are recommended for use in both training sessions and prolonged competitions.
  • Gels are a convenient and quick way to ingest carbohydrates and should be accompanied by water as a source of hydration.
  • The bars provide carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are an easy way to make pre-match or post-match recovery intakes. They work well during endurance training programmes.
  •  The shakes mainly provide carbohydrates and protein. In a small volume they provide a large amount of energy. They are a quick solution for a post-workout recovery intake or before endurance training. They are well tolerated by the stomach and are used by many athletes who have gastrointestinal problems when eating solid food before a match.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements are indicated when a proper food supply is not available due to travel.

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