Football Nutrition

Football nutrition, Sports Nutrition are the same but football nutrition has its own system. At all levels of football, good nutrition pays off, both in terms of long-term health and performance, and even same day-game performance. There used to be a time when three square meals a day was the accepted way to a healthy football performance, but times have changed and so have the attitudes towards health and wellness and football nutrition.




General Nutrition

Football is one of those games where athletes have to be in constant motion for 45 minutes at one time. Then there is the 10 minute break and then another 45 minute of constant activity. This means that a lot of energy is used. How do you replace this "body fuel"? What do you do to prepare for such a sport? Which diet program do you follow?


Sometimes its mind boggling... but there is help. As in training, there needs to be a plan of action. This plan depends on the level of play and competition that the players are engaged in.


Health and fitness has its source in nutrition. Successful performance is measured by what the body and mind can deliver.


This is energy output... so it is simple, energy in ... energy out.
Good habits start at an early age with a lifetime of benefits.


"You are what you eat",
"They ran out of gas",
"You shouldn't have eaten that before the game".

These are all sayings that are directly linked to nutritional habits.

If you want peak performance, then design a program to ensure your athletes eat like athletes. Learn to develop habits that encourage a good base for health and fitness.


Try to find the right combination of fuel for your athletes, and realize that there are also social morays around eating that effect both male and female athletes. There are also different requirements for both genders and at various ages for each gender. The average football player travels 12 km (8 miles) per game and at various speeds. Some midfielders will travel 18 km during the entire game. You need a lot of fuel for this type of endurance! Every nutritional program or specific diet has to reflect the need of the performers, goalkeepers included.




Nutrition and Mental Focus

Food-Brain-Brain-Food link

This is hormonal in nature with chemical interactions, in specific terms a euphoric state of the mind-body link.


We've all heard of the "breakfast on champions". This is true because it focuses on the daily nurturing of the body to aid the mind in preparation of the events ahead. It can be a part of a ritual as, proper breathing techniques and adequate liquid consumption.


Focusing on a dietary plan is also preparing the mind for future competitions is a longer process. This is the use of one of the most important issues in life (food), to introduce another important issue (competition), to heighten the all aspects of individual and team


It teaches the players/athletes to cue themselves for their games ahead. It also prompts acceptable behaviours and fosters conditions of ownership among the players and all those involved in the team.


Nutrition is only a step in a process towards mental focus. We have also heard, "strong in body, and strong in mind". I would suggest that these major components in life are completely intertwined and in fact are, inseparable. You can win by recognizing this or lose without even knowing that there is a link too or a cause and effect with this issue.


Many of us try and focus on what to eat. This is the first important step in the correct direction. The flip side to that is what not to eat. This is realizing what is harmful to the player and even the coach. "Maybe a little more oatmeal and less coffee?" is a good first step towards this solution.


The addition to that is what to eat, and in which combinations. We have now entered the realm of "the ZONE". This is the area of expertise of the highly qualified nutritionist to deliver the ultimate nutritional plan. This however can only be successful once the planner knows which competitions lay ahead. The nutritional planner also has to understand the team of athletes and their gender and age specificity.




Football team nutrition plan

 Planning a proper diet for your football tram is as important as practising set plays. Not introducing and utilizing a good sports diet plan may result in;

Lack of concentration,

General lethargy,

Muscle cramps,

Visual problems,



Proper nutrition means eating well planned meals before and after competitions and general games. This also includes correct and timely liquid intake. A highly tuned engine as the athlete’s body requires superior fuel to accomplish all of the tasks ahead.

Max Inzinger, the nutritional councellor for FIFA in the late 1980's and early 1990's has outlined a basic formula for the requirements of a football player. This is a caloric intake consideration and is calculated with the following formula;

Body size 'X' is a value number = energy needs

Body size is measured in height in centimetres

The value number is represented by the following table;


Training frequency

Value number

1-2 times weekly


3-4 times weekly


1-2 hours daily


3-4 hours daily


5-6 hours daily



 The football player's nutritional needs should be broken down with the following considerations; 









 The importance of rebuilding components within nutrition are found in the essential minerals, these are;







Vitamins (A, B complexes, C and D)

These should be sourced from whole foods and should be consumed raw whenever possible.




Proper intake of liquids

Although water is vital to the smooth functioning of the body of the football player, it is not the only liquid that is essential. Our sweat is composed of many salts. These salts are the release of essential minerals and need replacing.


These are all necessary in the function of daily tasks as they are important as catalysts. These minerals are called electrolytes when in an aqueous (water) solution. Many of these minerals can also be found in a variety of supplements. These nutritional supplements can be in a pill or power form and should be found in a sports nutrition store or outlet.

Replacing body fluids starts at least 2hours before a game. This is important to note because in a very fast paced game and in hot climiates a player can lose as much as 3litres (3quarts) in the form of sweat and transpiration. Liquid needs to be replaced at half time and if possible during the game, especially on hot or humid days. The liquid should be at or around normal body temperature as cold liquids are absorbed slower. These electrolytes should be moderated and not gulped as the body will utilize smaller quantities more easily. Players can formulate their own sports drinks but need to use little sugar and use a combination fruit juices and water. Even fruit juices with high sugar content and carbonated or soda drinks should be avoided. This is because of the 'sugar rush' which is short lived and produces a type of lethargy. If a football player uses powdered sports drinks the direction should be followed carefully as a high doasge of electrolytes will also speed up the loss of fluids. Remember the body wants to be balanced and will react and adjust itself accordingly.




Natural Foods

Natural food sources are best as the body is used to taking foods and breaking them down in small nutrient groups. What we don't use is turned to waste which includes the over use of supplements. The more you exercise the more your body will use. . . so combine your nutrition with great workouts and make sure your great workouts are rewarded with great nutrition meals.

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