A nutrition plan for footballers - how to perform better in the long term

Footballer in action

Healthy and full of power: That's how!

The difference between intensive play days and rest days

We have already talked about nutrition in soccer and how players can provide themselves with energy around the game in this article. But there are a lot of other elements that are important in order to increase your performance in the long run and to stay healthy. We will show you an example of this with a diet plan for footballers.

On high-stress game and/or training days, quickly available carbohydrates come first so you have the power you need. However, this should not be the case every day.

On the days between the games, attention should be paid to a high nutrient density and an optimally balanced diet. If you are not planning a strenuous workout, make sure that your plate contains carbohydrates, proteins, fiber and protective substances in the form of fruits and vegetables.

A high nutrient density on rest days

Nutrient density is a measure of the nutritional quality of a food. It relates the nutrients contained in a food to its energy content.

In other words, nutrient density is used to assess the quality of a food and its effect on human health. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and potatoes have a high nutrient density.

You don’t necessarily have to make a science out of it. A Coke gives you about 30g of carbohydrates, so does a banana. One of the two has the higher nutrient density – you will come up with the answer yourself 😉

In order to get from workout to workout full of energy, the diet should still be carbohydrate-rich overall. Unlike game days, however, in everyday life it is not so important that the energy of the carbohydrates is quickly available. It is more important to supply carbohydrates that keep you full for a relatively long time and trigger a gentle insulin response.

Legumes or whole grain products are suitable for this purpose. This form of nutrition is beneficial to health in the long term. You can read more about “good” carbohydrates for athletes in this article.

Our nutritionist Robert Gorgos has thought about which foods you can rely on for a nutrient-rich diet – and summarized them in a table.

Healthy food


The importance of dietary fiber

Dietary fibers are long-chain carbohydrates that cannot be utilized by the human organism. They are not enzymatically cleaved and reach the colon almost unchanged. Dietary fiber has a number of positive properties, but it is not very digestible.

Therefore, they are often avoided by athletes on stress days. However, it is all the more important to make sure you get fiber on rest days. The recommendation is to consume 30g of fiber per day. But which foods are high in fiber?

High levels of dietary fiber are found in whole grain products and legumes, but also in fruits and vegetables. Vegetables with a high water content, such as zucchini, tomatoes or cucumbers, tend to have a low fiber content. On the other hand, carrots, peppers, beet, cabbage or fennel have a significantly higher fiber content.

Among fruits, berries are particularly convincing with their high fiber content. The recommended 30g would be found in four slices of whole wheat bread or seven slices of whole wheat toast. Of course, it is recommended not to cover the 30g with bread alone, but to also eat vegetables and fruit to cover the need. [1]

A diet plan for soccer players

The “5-a-day” rule

A simple rule that players could follow is the “5-a-day” rule. This states that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed per day. Best divided into 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit.

Coupled with appropriate sources of carbohydrates, players can increase the nutrient density of their diet through this simple strategy.

High intake of vegetables and fruits will also improve the absorption of important micronutrients and antioxidants. You can learn HERE about the importance of micronutrients.

A sample nutrition plan day by day

The following is an example nutrition plan for soccer players for a week with 2 training sessions and a match. Understandably, the amount supplied varies depending on body weight and gender. Of course, the dishes can be changed according to taste. It is important to keep in mind the points discussed above.

Summarized again:

On training days or game days, the focus is on quickly available and easily digestible carbohydrates. On the other hand, on the days in between, it is important to pay attention to a high nutrient density. Here it is also important to eat a lot of fiber and enough fruits and vegetables. Carbohydrates should be supplied via legumes or whole grain products.

Monday

Breakfast:
Skyr with berries and oatmeal, flaxseed, nuts(skyr provides protein; berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber; oatmeal provides carbohydrates and fiber; flaxseed and nuts provide you with good fats).

Snack:
Apple (provides antioxidants)

Lunch:
Lentil curry with vegetables (lentils have a high nutrient density, they trigger a gentle insulin response and provide carbohydrates and proteins. Vegetables and curry provide you with minerals and antioxidants).

Evening:
Stuffed peppers (Provide carbohydrates and protein in addition to fiber from peppers and filling (millet, rice, quinoa…depending on taste)).

Tuesday

Breakfast:
Oat porridge with apple (fruit of choice), chia seeds, almond paste (Oatmeal provides fiber and carbohydrates. A higher time gap between breakfast and training allows to cook the porridge with milk (depending on the milk used, it contains more or less protein. Soy milk provides the most protein out of plant based milks). If this breakfast is eaten only a few hours before training or the start of the game, it is recommended to use water for cooking).

Lunch:
Pasta with basil pesto + wholemeal bread (1-2 slices)

Snack before the workout:
PORRIDGE BAR (If possible, it should be avoided to start training with empty glycogen stores. Due to the often long interval between lunch and the start of training, it therefore makes sense to take in some energy before training. For this purpose, sports bars are very good, because they provide a relatively large amount of energy and are well tolerated.

During training:
35-40g drink powder FAST CARBin 500ml of water (to provide you with quickly available carbohydrates that give you the energy you need immediately, without stressing your digestive tract)

After training:
30-40g RECOVERY SHAKE in 250-300ml rice milk, oat milk or similar + banana (for optimal regeneration carbohydrates AND proteins are crucial)

Dinner:
Vegetable rice

Wednesday

Breakfast:
Millet porridge with walnuts and raspberries (Millet provides protein as well as carbohydrates. What makes millet also interesting is its relatively high iron content. As with oat porridge, millet porridge can be cooked with milk or water. The choice of this also affects, the protein content. Walnuts provide good fats)

Snack:
Natural yogurt

Lunch:
Broccoli + carrots (vegetables of choice) with couscous/bulgur and a protein source such as meat, fish or possibly omelette.

Snack:
Fruit of choice

Dinner:
Sweet potatoes with mozzarella and vegetables of choice

Thursday

Breakfast:
Omelette with vegetables or fruit

Snack:
Handful nuts

Lunch:
Tortellini + (salad)

The time gap between lunch and training makes it possible to consume certain amounts of salad. However, salads should not be the main component of the pre-workout meal (even if there is a large time gap). First, they do not provide enough carbohydrates and second, as already discussed, high amounts can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Snack:
PORRIDGE BAR (The bar can also be replaced by a banana and/or date(s). This decision is best made in view of your training and the time interval to lunch. If it’s a training session of moderate intensity, then a will be a banana or similar can also be sufficient).

During training:
FAST CARB: 30-35g in 500ml of water (can be increased up to 1,000ml per serving depending on temperature).

After training:
40-50g RECOVERY8 in 300-400ml liquid + 4-5 dates

Dinner: Polenta with fried egg and vegetables (Polenta, in addition to many carbohydrates, also offers minerals and vitamin A in appreciable quantities. Would also be suitable as a meal before training due to good digestibility).

Friday

Breakfast:
Wholemeal bread with avocado + natural yogurt

Snack:
Nut mix

Lunch:
Wild salmon with potato + salad

Dinner:
Chickpea and carrot stew

Saturday (Match Day)

Breakfast: toast (sweet or salty)

Lunch: pasta with tomato sauce (Depending on the time between lunch and kickoff, another carbohydrate-rich meal should be eaten about 3 h before the game. Here, for example, a simple bowl of rice would be recommended).

During the game:
POWER CARB + GEL40 (You can learn more about the nutrition during the game HERE )

After the game:
RECOVERY SHAKE + apricots

Dinner:
Chicken breast sautéed in a little olive oil, mashed sweet potatoes; vegetable smoothie or vegetable soup.

What about beer after the training or game?

Celebrating good (or bad) games is generally not reprehensible. As always, the dose makes the poison. Jimenez-Pavon et al. published the relevant data in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. 1-2 beers had no significantly harmful effect on water balance. Drinking water at the same time proved to be beneficial.[2]

Of course, these data must not be misunderstood. Here we are talking about occasional, mild consumption. If you play weekly or even more often during the week, you should not drink 2 beers after every game!

It should also be noted that beer is not a super alcohol and this data cannot, of course, be applied to any alcoholic beverage.

Furthermore, this study was conducted on male subjects. Women need to be aware that this data is not 1:1 transferable to them. A correspondingly milder consumption is to be “recommended”.

Sources
 [1] https://www.dge.de/presse/pm/mehr-ballaststoffe-bitte/
[2] Jimenez-Pavon et al. 2015; Effects of a moderate intake of beer on markers of hydration after exercise in the heat: a crossover study.

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