The Important Aspects of Diet In Soccer

Learn how to develop a balanced diet designed for soccer and its physical demands. Always take into account the different phases of your training and competition when it comes to your nutrition.
The Important Aspects of Diet In Soccer

Last update: 15 November, 2019

The physical demands on the field raise nutritional requirements. A good diet to play soccer is fundamental for good performance during each game.

Muscle recovery in soccer: how to achieve it through your diet

An adequate intake of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins is essential for highly competitive players. It promotes muscle recovery and helps to maintain your weight and good physical condition. It also reduces the risk of injuries and diseases and prolongs the duration of your sporting life.

During the game, a player burns a lot of energy, the body temperature rises and so does the pulse. High-intensity efforts increase energy consumption, creatine phosphate levels and accelerate the production of energy molecules or glycolysis.

Two soccer players

A diet to play soccer must satisfy energy requirements before, during and after training and gameplay. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, lean meats, fish and dairy products make this possible. Quantity, quality, proportion and a regular meal schedule will guarantee better performance.

Glycogen and carbohydrates: their importance in a diet for soccer players

Carbohydrates are transformed into glycogen, an energy reserve that’s present in the liver and muscles. It becomes glucose when energy demands increase. Fatigue appears when the levels of this substance decrease in the muscle fibers; a proper diet to play soccer must make up for these deficiencies.

Athletes need more carbohydrates than proteins and fats to achieve muscles that are in tune with energy demands. They can consume high doses for a few days, from 8 to 10 grams per kilo of body weight.

The number of carbohydrates will depend on the player’s size and training. If there are less than eight hours between sessions, carbohydrate intake should begin at the end of the first session. The idea is to gain effective muscle recovery time.

From the night before

The preparation for a game of soccer should start the night before. Eating food that’s easy to digest two hours before going to sleep is essential. Vegetable salads, pasta, cooked rice, fish, fruits, yogurt or bread are recommended. Players should also drink plenty of water.


It’s important to eat the last meal around three hours before the game. Foods rich in carbohydrates, low in protein and fat, eaten in small amounts, will avoid gastrointestinal discomfort during the game.

Sauces, spicy food and spices are not recommended. Also, eat slowly, chew well and drink plenty of fluids.

Carbohydrates drinks in the half-time

Drinking carbohydrate beverages during half-time help to recover reserves of muscle glycogen and blood glucose. It also contributes to hydration.

The two hours following the game are key. Foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, dehydrated vegetables or fruits will facilitate muscle repair. Multivitamin complexes also help.

Proteins for muscle repair

Proteins stimulate the growth of new muscle tissues and promote the repair of muscles. They provide hormones and enzymes that regulate your metabolism.

In situations of high physical exertion, intake could rise from 0.8 to between 1.2 and 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. It should not exceed 20 percent of daily calories since excess is accumulated as fat or discarded. And, it also produces more combustion than carbohydrates and fats, and it increases urinary frequency.

Essential nutrients and vitamins in a diet for soccer

Nutrients such as iron, cooper, manganese, magnesium, selenium, sodium, zinc and vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12 are most effective when they originate from food.

Antioxidants protect body tissues from the stress of rigorous exercise. It’s recommended to obtain them from food and not from supplements, which can affect the body’s defense mechanisms. Fats should not exceed 30 percent of your daily calories.

Hydration, a vital issue

Liquids maintain electrolyte balance and regulate body temperature. They provide nutrients to the muscle cells and assist in the elimination of waste substances. They also lubricate joints.

These liquids should be taken before, during and after training and playing. Drinking alcohol after a game can affect the re-hydration process.

Lack of fluids in high-demand physical events muscle cramps and weakness. Sweating lowers body temperature, but causes loss of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chlorine. If they aren’t replaced, the effects will be negative.

You can use water, energy drinks or fruits such as melon, watermelon, strawberry, orange or grape. Tomatoes and carrots are also very helpful.

A group of people holding energy drinks as a supplement for their diet in soccer

Sports foods

Sports foods supply nutrients and energy in easy-to-consume presentations during workouts or games; they all contain carbohydrates.

Energy drinks provide liquids. Sports gels, liquids foods and cereal bars contain protein, vitamins and minerals.

Cost and a limited range of nutrients play against them. Protein or amino acid supplements also don’t compete with the effectiveness of meals as part of the right diet to play soccer.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.