Nutrition in Football

               Football players require high carbohydrate intake on a daily basis to replenish muscle stores after each bout of exercise. On average, players will require between 5-8 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight each day. For example, a player weighing 70kg will require 350-560grams of carbohydrate each day to maintain muscle energy stores. To replenish energy stores foods such as bread, cereal, fruit, pasta, rice, vegetables, yoghurt and flavoured low-fat milk can be the focus of meals and snacks.

               Ideally, players should aim to eat a high carbohydrate meal or snack within 30 minutes of finishing training or matches. For away trips we recommend giving the players pack lunches with the right type of foods so they can eat on the way home.


  • 800-1000ml sports drink
  • Flavoured low fat milkshake
  • 3 medium pieces of fruit
  • 2 cereal bars
  • 2x200g of yoghurt
  • Bowl of cereal with low fat milk
  • Bowl of fruit salad with yoghurt
  • 3 slices of toast

               Be organised. Have suitable foods and fluids available at all times. Make use of portable foods such as cereal bars, fruit, dried fruit, fruit buns, juice and milk.

Match Preperation
               As the boys tend to play in the morning, a light, high carbohydrate breakfast should be eaten at least two hours (ideally three) before a match. We also have to consider that the boys should eat a high carbohydrate meal on the night before a game. Snacks may also be consumed an hour before the match. Experiment to find the best foods and eating times for you.

Pre-match meal reccomendations:

  • Pasta based meals with white meat and sauce
  • Homemade chicken curry and rice
  • Cottage / Shepherds pie

Ideal breakfast recommendations with fruit juice:

  • Porride with fruit/golden syrup
  • Cereal with milk
  • Wholemeal toast with spreads
  • Beans on toast
  • Scrambled egg on toast
  • Grilled bacon

Pre-match snacks include:

  • Cereal bars
  • Fruit
  • Yoghurs
  • Sports drink
  • Fruit buns
  • Muffin

Match considerations – fuel & fluid

               Football matches place high physical demands on both fluid and carbohydrate stores of players. Studies have reported low muscle glycogen (energy) levels in players after a match – sometimes with significant depletion occurring by half-time. Players with depleted muscle glycogen stores had a lower average speed and covered less ground than their team-mates in the second half of matches. Studies show that strategies to increase carbohydrate supplies – both eating a high carbohydrate diet in the days before a match and drinking a sports drink during the match, keep players running faster and further in the second half. Making sure you have prepared properly by consuming the correct amounts and types of foods throughout the week, this may help to improve your performance and reduce your chance of injury during a game.

               Sweat losses of 1-2.5L per 90-minute game in cool conditions and approximately 4L during hot conditions have been reported in some studies. However, the reported fluid intake of players is typically less than half of the sweat rate. If you are dehydrated by as little as 5% your overall performance could drop by as much as 20%.

Hydration tips:

Drink isotonic or carbohydrate sports drinks, or water.
Drink well during the warm-up and half-time breaks.
We recommend that the players do not consume any fizzy drinks before, during, or after exercise. We also recommend that players do not share drinks due to the risk of spreading illness.

Post-match recovery recommendations:

Sports drinks, cordials.
Flavoured low fat milkshakes
Fruits such as water melon and pineapple.
Cereal bars
White bread sandwiches.
Eat a proper meal or snack/drink containing some protein (meat, fish, poultry, sea-food or dairy products) and more carbohydrates to complete your recovery.
We do not recommend that players consume fast foods to aid their recovery as many fast foods are low in carbohydrate and high in fat, so are not ideal for recovery.

Protein – are you getting enough?

               Protein is essential for the growth and formation of new tissue and for tissue repair e.g. muscle tissue. The established protein requirement for footballers is 1.4-1.8grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For example, a 70kg footballer would require 98-126grams of protein per day.

How does the timing of protein & carbohydrate work?

               Recovery after each exercise bout is a challenge for the athlete with a busy timetable. Recovery processes are complex, during and following exercise, protein breakdown occurs. Recent evidence shows that consuming protein immediately after exercise appears to enhance muscle protein synthesis. The most important news is that the effect of post exercise protein is best seen when protein is combined with carbohydrate. A protein-carbohydrate snack or meal after a workout makes good sense – not only for muscle repair and adaptation to training, but to provide carbohydrate fuel to restore muscle glycogen (energy) levels.

Examples of other snacks or light meals that achieve this include;

  • Yoghurt
  • Flavoured low fat milkshakes
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Liquid meal replacements
  • Sandwiches with meat, cheese or chicken
  • Breakfast cereal and milk
  • Cereal bars

               The following lists other protein rich foods to include in your diet, many people turn to meat, poultry and dairy products to obtain protein. Don’t forget that plant foods such as bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereal and nuts also contribute significant amounts of protein to the overall diet. Each of the following foods supplies approximately 10g of protein; remember a 70kg footballer would require approximately 98-126g of protein:

Animal Foods

Plant Foods

2 small eggs

30g reduced fat cheese (1.5 slices)

70g cottage cheese

1 cup (250ml) low fat milk

35g lean beef, lamb or pork

40g lean chicken

50g grilled fish

50g canned tuna or salmon

200g reduced fat yoghurt

4 slices wholemeal bread

3 cups wholegrain cereal

2 cups cooked pasta

3 cups cooked rice

200g baked beans

60g seeds or nuts

1 cup (250ml) soy milk

Are protein supplements useful?

               Generally athletes can obtain all the protein they require from a good mixed diet. Many protein supplements are expensive to buy, due to the amount of marketing that accompanies them. We do not recommend that young players take protein supplements.

               Information gathered from Shrewsbury Town FC. Should you require more information please see the documentation attached.

FIFA – Nutrition in Football

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