Title: Nutrition for Young Soccer Players

Key words:

Date: July 2000

Category: 12. Sports

Type: Article

Author: Dr M Draper

Nutrition for Young Soccer Players


In football, it is estimated that about 155-160 gms of glycogen, 50 -60g of fat is used and 5-6 MJ per game (Shepherd 1992). A daily energy expenditure of 14.7 MJ (Williams 1994) (14 MJ = 3500kcals). The energy intakes vary from 11-20 MJ/day, according to various studies1 and glycogen stores are easily depleted, especially if low before the game2. Sweat losses vary between 1.5 and 4.0 litres per game.


The carbohydate intake (50-60 % of total:) should be 8-10 g/kg bodyweight per day (1gm of CHO = 4 kcal or 17 kJ).


Dietary fat should not be higher than 30% of the total calories. Daily fat intakes should therefore be around 100 -120 gms per day (1 gm of fat = 9 kcal or 37 kJ).


Studies indicate about 10% of total energy requirements should be obtained from protein. The recommended protein intake is 1.4-1.7gms/kg per day .This is 175-212% of the RDA. and assumes high quality sources. (Vegetarians require slightly higher intakes i.e. 1.6- 1.9 g/kg per day2).


Requirements are a minimum of 2 litres (30ml/kg). This may have to be increased in hot weather and for junior players3.


The consensus is that assuming the above requirements are met there is no convincing data that supplements or ergogenic aids are beneficial (the antioxidants Vitamin E, C and Selenium may be, as might creatine and glutamine).


Promoting Optimal Nutrition in Young Players

The most important thing to emphasise is that a good CHO diet1 and fluid intake2 will minimise fatigue, promote recovery, maintain hydration and usually help to prevent injuries.



Using glycaemic index cards3 with High, Moderate and Low foods and customised for the individuals’ food preferences aims to carbohydrate load:

(1) Before exercise

I hour before 1-2 gms /kg Body Weight High index (see Table 1)4 hours before 5 gms /kg Body Weight High Index

(2) During exercise

25 gms of liquid Carbohydrate drink every 30 mins

(3) After exercise

Within 2 hours consume a high Carbohydrate meal.


Check the colour of the players urine

  1. Weigh before and after games or training.Drink whenever possible on match days, especially away from the bar!
  2. Table 1

    Carbohydrate rich foods with a high glycaemic index.

    These foods are recommended anytime for training, 3-4 hours pre-match and post-match for rapid recovery and glycogen resynthesis.

    FOOD GROUP FOOD ITEM SERVING SIZE (gm/ml) giving 50g carbohydrate
    Grains White bread Wholemeal bread Rye bread (light) Bagel Pastry (shortcrust) Rice (wholegrain) Rice (white) 201g 120g 104g 89g 90g 196g 169g
    Breakfast cereals Cornflakes Muesli Shredded wheat Weetabix 59g 76g 74g 71g
    Biscuits and confectionery Wholewheat semi-sweet biscuits Crispbread (rye) Plain cracker Chocolate nougat bar (contains sucrose and glucose) 76g 71g 66g   75g
    Vegetables Sweetcorn Broad beans Parsnips Potato (instant) Potato (boiled) Potato (baked) 219g 704g 370g 310g 254g 200g
    Fruit Raisins Banana 78g 260g
    Sugars Glucose Maltose Honey Sucrose Molasses: 113ml Corn syrup 50g 50g 67g 50g 63g
    Beverages 6% sucrose solution 7.5% maltodextrin and sugar 10% cornsyrup carbonated drink 20% maltodextrin 833ml 250ml 500ml 250ml





    References:(A) General: 'Soccer and Nutrition' FIFA Consensus Conference booklet .

    (B) For Text:Maughan RJ 'Energy and macronutrient intakes of professional soccer players' Br. J. Sports Med. 1997; 31:5-47.

  3. Hargreaves M 'Carbohydrate and lipid requirements of soccer’
  4. Balsom PD , Wood K , Olsson P, and Ekblom B 'Carbohydrate intake and mutiple sprint sports with special reference to football' Int. J. Sports Med. 1999; 20; 48-52.
  5. McGregor SJ et al. 'The influence of intermittent high shuttle running and fliud injestion on the performance of a soccer skill' J. of Sports Science 1999: 17, 895-903.

Coyle EF 'Timing and method of increased carbohydrate intake to cope with heavy training, competition and recovery' J. of Sports Science 1991; 9, 29-52. .