Nutrition and Diet

Eating the wrong thing can affect your fitness quite dramatically. Try to consume carbohydrate-rich meals two to three days prior to an upcoming game. It is recommended to stay away from fried, fatty or spicy foods within 24 hours of kick-off. To make sure that your stomach and upper small intestines are empty, your last meal should be at least 3-4 hours before the game. From that point on, make sure you are well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. After the game and throughout the rest of the week, you may eat protein-rich meals as long as they don’t contain too much fat. The basic idea is to have your body store its calories from complex carbohydrate foods. Players burn approximately 1700 calories per game while the body can only store about 600 per day.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge drinks from a water bottle at Mexico 1986


Soccer players burn a lot of calories but fat should be minimized in the athlete’s diet, mainly because it is not an efficient provider of energy. Although there is a lot of energy stored in fat, in long duration sports like soccer the body fuels itself mainly from Glycogen which is found in carbohydrates.
Examples: butter, cheese, processed meats, chocolate


Complex carbohydrates fuel the body during prolonged physical activity such as soccer. As with other aerobic sports, the ideal meal for a footballer should be rich in carbohydrates. Before games, it is recommended to increase carb intake and decrease proteins. Flour and starch-based foods are a good source of complex carbohydrates.
Examples: bread, potatoes, pasta, cereal, low-fat dairy products


Proteins are essential for the regeneration of muscles and tissue. It is important to include protein into meals, but the amount must be kept it in small portions. Ideally, not more than 10% of the calories in your diet should come from protein-rich foods.
Examples: meat, eggs, nuts


During games or practice, your body loses a lot of water. To keep it hydrated it’s important to drink water frequently in small portions – even when you don’t feel like it. By the time you feel thirsty your body is probably already dehydrated.

Updated: July 1, 2016
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