What is the Typical Soccer Player Diet Plan?

Two teenage soccer players on the field.

Anybody who watches soccer, whether they enjoy the sport or simply love Ted Lasso, may wonder how the top players maintain their impressive level of fitness. Is it all from workouts or do the food choices they make have an impact?

A soccer player’s diet plan may vary from athlete to athlete, but there are some things that can help anybody—soccer pro or not—achieve a better level of fitness.

What is the Best Diet for Soccer Players?

Soccer players’ nutrition can differ between individuals, but a healthy soccer player diet plan should include plenty of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats, with minimal sugar and processed foods. 

What Are the Elements of Good Soccer Player Nutrition?

A diet plan for soccer players (or football players if you call them the British way) must focus on healthy foods that are high in nutrients. Every athlete requires food that will give them the energy they need while playing and the ability to recover between games and workouts.

Complex Carbohydrates for Energy

The first element of a soccer player or footballer’s diet plan is plenty of complex carbohydrates. Examples of this include oatmeal and whole-grain cereal.

According to Livestrong, the average professional soccer player burns between 200 and 250 grams of carbohydrates during a match. While not every athlete engages in carbohydrate loading, many do up their intake of carbs in the days preceding a match.

Lean Protein for Muscle Building

After an intense workout, it’s essential to replace the body’s glycogen stores, which can be depleted by exercise. Glycogen is a stored form of carbohydrate that also happens to be the body’s preferred source of energy.

The recommended soccer player diet after a workout is a combination of lean protein and complex carbs, which allow the body to rebuild damaged muscles and replenish its store of glycogen for the next workout. Examples of lean protein include fish, chicken breast, and tofu.

Healthy Fats

Our bodies need fat to be healthy and soccer players are no exception. Most avoid fatty foods before practice or a match, but some healthy fat is a must. Footballers can get healthy fat into their diet by enjoying peanut butter, nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy oils such as olive oil.

Hydration

In addition to getting the right food to power their workouts, soccer players must be diligent about hydration. The body loses a lot of water during intense physical activity. Drinking either plain water or water with electrolytes will prevent dehydration.

What is a Good Youth Soccer Player Diet Plan?

Young people who play soccer have special nutritional needs that must be met by their diets. Their bodies and minds are still developing, so it’s essential that they get the proper nutrition to help them grow.

Recommended Daily Servings for Youth Soccer Players

There’s a lot of room for variety in a young footballer’s diet. Here are some recommendations from Childrens.com:

  • Whole grains and complex carbohydrates, including whole-grain breakfast cereals, quinoa, oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, squash, and beans
  • Vegetables (three to five servings per day)
  • Fruits (two to four servings per day)
  • Lean proteins, including chicken, fish, tofu, yogurt, beans, lentils, eggs, and milk
  • Healthy fats, including nuts, nut butters, seeds, olive oil, and avocados

A healthy daily diet is a must because it provides young athletes with the energy and strength they need during practice or a match. Parents should calculate kids’ caloric needs and make sure they get enough food every day to support their growth.

Pre and Post-Workout Snacks for Youth Soccer Players

Because kids are still in the growing phase, it’s important to give them the fuel they need before a practice or match and the nutrition they need to recover after their workout.

Pre-Workout Snacks

In a Food Network article, nutritionist Dana Angelo White recommends easy-to-digest snacks for kids before they work out. Foods that are high in processed sugar or fat are not recommended because fat takes a long time to digest and foods high in sugar may provide an immediate burst of energy with a subsequent crash.

Some of her suggestions include bananas, watermelon, or a granola bar with between five and 10 grams of protein. Other types of fruit are also healthy, and the same would be true of toast or, in colder weather, a cup of soup.

Post-Workout Snacks

Kids are likely to be hungry after a match, and they need a combination of complex carbs and lean protein to recover. It’s not a good idea to give them something that’s high in sugar or anything that’s overly processed.

Some suggestions include a sandwich on whole-grain bread, chocolate milk, a smoothie with yogurt for protein, or a homemade protein bar.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Mindset for Kids

Any diet for youth soccer players should allow for kids to be kids. It’s not healthy for children to be on an unnecessarily restrictive diet since it can interfere with their growth and brain development. According to Behavioral Nutrition, it can also lead to eating disorders.

Young athletes should eat a diet that’s mostly healthy but there’s still room for treats. Remember, any kid who’s participating in soccer is getting a decent amount of exercise. While eating too many processed foods or too much sugar can interfere with athletic performance, there’s nothing wrong with a young footballer eating dessert or enjoying an after-school snack.

What Does Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo Eat?

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the top soccer players in the world, and he follows a healthy football player diet plan that incorporates the nutrients that are necessary to keep him fit.

Ronaldo has said that he eats six small meals a day during the football season. Here’s a breakdown of what he eats to keep himself fueled for the game.

Breakfast

Ronaldo’s breakfast when he’s in training typically consists of egg whites, low-fat yogurt, and whole-grain cereals. He has said that when he’s not in training, he’ll vary his diet a bit more by adding cheese, sliced meat, fresh fruit, pastries, or avocado toast.

Lunch

Eating two small lunches each day is part of Ronaldo’s training regimen. His first lunch typically consists of a salad with chicken, or whole wheat pasta. Between two and four hours later, he eats a second lunch of salad, eggs, tuna, and olives. Both meals focus on lean protein and healthy carbs.

Dinner

Ronaldo also has two small dinners each day when he’s in training. Both meals consist of fish, chicken, or turkey, salad, and rice, beans, or quinoa. He also enjoys an occasional steak.

Snacks

Snacks are important for athletes in training. Ronaldo has said that he eats several snacks per day. Some of his favorite choices include the following.

  • Fruit
  • Tuna rolls
  • Protein shakes
  • Fresh bread with sardines

When he’s in training, he tries to keep his fat intake low. However, he’ll still partake of the occasional treat, including pizza, cake, chocolate, and wine.

Girls' soccer team in a huddle

What About the Female Soccer Player Diet?

Female footballers have similar nutritional needs to men, but it’s interesting to see where the differences lie.

Megan Rapinoe is widely considered to be one of the greatest female soccer players of all time. She shared her nutritional philosophy with Well + Good, telling them this:

Overall, my philosophy is just to put good things in my body. I don’t really eat anything artificial, fake, or that I can’t pronounce. I try to keep it simple and clean.

Here’s a typical daily menu for Rapinoe when she’s in training.

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onion or peppers on an English muffin
  • Post-workout snack: Protein shake
  • Lunch: A sandwich and salad, or a grain bowl with farro and sweet potato
  • Snack: A protein bar or juice
  • Dinner: Chicken or fish, a complex carb such as sweet potato, and plenty of vegetables

Like Ronaldo, Rapinoe isn’t completely strict with her diet. She enjoys meals out and the occasional treat too.

Soccer Players Should Eat a Healthy Diet

Soccer players at any level should eat a diet that’s balanced and healthy to maintain their fitness and give them the power they need on the pitch. 

A diet that consists mostly of complex carbs and lean protein will provide the energy needed for practice and matches, as well as the healing necessary to repair muscles and restore glycogen stores after a workout.

This entry was posted in Health, Sports, Wellness and tagged , , . By Aimee Parrott