Nutrition For Soccer

Football is a game that requires the player work in sporadic fashion in which players perform repeated episodes of both low and high intensity, like jogging to take a throw in or sprinting onto a pass. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy during soccer and should be considered the most important ingredient when fueling the body.

Before a game High glycemic (high GI) carbohydrates should be the most dominant source eaten with every meal as these are rapidly digested and absorbed by your body ready to use for energy. Research suggests that the more muscle glycogen you have in your body before a game; the longer and harder you will be able to work for during the game. It is recommended that you still include a portion of vegetables, a moderate amount of high quality protein (chicken, turkey, or lean red meat) and a source of good fats avocado, nuts, seeds, olives). This should be consumed at least one hour before a game!!!

High GI foods Mashed Potato, white bread, watermelon, sweet potato, bagel, bran flakes, cheerio’s, jelly beans, rice cakes, cornflakes, baked potato, puffed wheat, baguette, white rice (steamed), honey, raisins.

high glycemic

Post-Game Nutrition

During a game we can use around 250 grams of carbohydrates to fuel the body. For this reason it is important that we start to refuel the body as quickly as possible to optimize recovery. To maximize recovery a snack should be consumed within 30 minutes after competition. Snacks could include fruit such as bananas, raisins, water melon and dried fruit as well as high carbohydrate based sports drinks such as Gatorade. For the first 2 hours after competition choose foods with a high glycaemic index.

A main meal should be consumed within two hours of the game consisting of moderate GI foods such as pasta, potato’s and rice.

Protein should also be consumed in the recovery period to aid in the repair and growth of damaged muscle tissue. A protein based snack containing 20-25 grams could be consumed immediately after a game. Foods that will aid recovery should consist of the following:



During physical exertion our body temperature increases. Our body then begins to sweat as a coping mechanism to cool us down. Therefore, it is vital we replace the fluids that we lose through sweat! Soccer is a high intensity sport that is extremely physically demanding and proper hydration will reduce your risk of injury as well as help you maintain peak fitness levels after the match. You need to consume more water and fluids than normal while playing soccer to replenish the fluids lost from sweating, keeping us focused and in peak condition. The amount of water we lose will ultimately depend on how hard a player works (intensity) and the humidity and weather conditions.

It is suggested that hydration should begin 24 hours before a game and the majority of intake should come from fluids in particular water, roughly 80% from fluids and the rest coming from foods. The American Council on Exercise suggests drinking around 17 to 20 ounces 3 to 5 hours before the start of the match. Also they suggest taking on 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise and an additional 8 ounces of fluids to be consumed post-match.(www.acefitness.org, 2016) The most effective method would be to drink in sips rather than consuming large measures by chugging even when it may feel necessary to do so.


Sports drinks are a good source of high GI carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars. They can be taken during a game to increase glycogen stores and provide us with a top up of energy. They can also be taken immediately after a game in order to start replenishing our energy stores and aid in the refueling process. As we sweat we lose certain minerals such as sodium and potassium (electrolytes). These minerals are vital for many bodily functions such as nerve transmissions. Sports drinks will also help to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat.

PDF version for download:  pdfNutrition Information Leaflet

Nutrition for Soccer Meal Plans


Below is an example of some healthy breakfast ideas that are quick and easy to prepare and allow players the energy required for morning games or sessions.

good breakfast

Below is a list of breakfasts that are consumed in many households and may be perceived as healthy options but in fact are not beneficial for players in the morning.

bad breakfast


Below is an example of some healthy lunch ideas that are quick and easy to prepare and allow players the energy required for afternoon games or sessions.

good lunch

Below is a list of meals eaten at lunch consumed in many households that may be perceived as healthy options but in fact are not beneficial for players at lunch.

bad lunch


Below is an example of some healthy dinner ideas that are quick and easy to prepare and allow players the energy require d for evening games or sessions.

good diner

Below is a list of meals eaten at dinner consumed in many households that may be perceived as healthy options but in fact are not beneficial for players before evening games or sessions.

bad dinner

Downloadable PDF:  pdfNutrition Information Meal Sheet

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