A Young Footballers Diet

A young Footballers diet should be based around high carbohydrate foods, where 60% of the total energy intake should be from carbohydrate sources, between 12-15% from protein, and 25-30% from fat. The carbohydrate intake should be modified if a player is injured or ill, to around 50% of total energy intake. Young footballers who are training regularly should have a daily target of 8-10g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight (e.g. player with 40kg of body weight = 40 x 8g = 320 g per day.

A diet that is high in carbohydrate and fluids, moderate in protein and low in fat will give athletes enough calories and nutrients to grow, train, and compete. Below are some suggestions of recommended meals, snacks, and foods to avoid before, during, and after games.



Water (Note 1)

Moderate portions

Bread Rolls



Sports drinks

Not Recommended

High fat foods

High protein foods


Chocolate bars/ Doughnuts

Hot Dogs



Fizzy or carbonated drinks

Note 1: Guidelines for water

All footballers should drink water before, during, and after exercise.

Before exercise:

Drink ? Litre (10-14 oz) cold water 1-2 hours before game. Drink ? Litre of cold water 10-15 min. before activity.

During exercise:

Drink small amounts of cold water every 15 minutes.

After exercise:

Drink as much cold water as needed to quench thirst.

N.B. Thirst does not indicate when an athlete needs to re-hydrate, if an athlete is thirsty then they are already de-hydrated, the trick is to monitor your consumption to avoid dehydration and thirst.



Cereal (without sugar)

Bread Rolls



Skimmed Milk

Fruit Juice



Wholemeal Brea

Not Recommended



Toast with egg or cheese

Whole milk

Pop Tarts

Fizzy or Carbonated drinks


Lots of butter or margarine



Baked potato & chilli?

Bread Rolls



Yogurt/Milk Shake (skimmed or low fat)?

Pasta (careful of high fat sauces)?

Cheese pizza

Lean ham

Turkey/Chicken sandwich (brown or wholemeal bread)


Not Recommended



Apple pies

Fried fish

Fried chicken

Meat pizza

Fizzy or carbonated drinks

Mashed potato & gravy

Lots of butter or margarine


Hot dogs

Mayo and cheese

High Carbohydrate Eating - Are you getting enough ?

Carbohydrate foods play a vital role as a training fuel. The critical source of energy for exercising muscles is from your body`s carbohydrate stores – a little form blood glucose and a larger amount from glycogen stored in your muscles.

These stores are used up when you undertake activity and need to be refilled form the carbohydrate in your diet. Running low on carbohydrate causes fatigue – you may have experienced what it is like to run out of fuel.

The typical eating patterns of most western societies do not supply adequate carbohydrate, and the focus of a winning diet is to increase our intake of these fuel foods.

How much do you need?

To provide energy for a light to moderate training program, nutritionists recommend that carbohydrate food should make up more than half of total energy intake. Athletes with heavy daily training may need to eat higher levels than this to achieve their increased carbohydrate needs.

The amount needed also relates to your body weight, so the larger you are the more fuel you will need. The following is a guide for the different activity levels:

6-7 grams of carbs/kg/day – ie 42 grams per week. Serious amateur athlete, (i.e professional youth players) some weight training, medium level exercise (~10hrs/week) – this is essential.

50 gram serves of nutritious carbohydrate rich foods: (Spread out over a week)

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