Title: Optimal Nutrition for Soccer Players

Key words: macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein, fats, fluid, micronutrients, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, selenium, creatine, glutamine

Date: July 2000

Category: 12. Sports

Type: Article

Author: Dr M Draper



Optimal Nutrition for Soccer Players



In football, it is estimated that about 155-160 gms of glycogen, 50-60g of fat and 5-6 MJ of energy are used per game (Shepherd 1992). A daily energy expenditure of 14.7 MJ has been cited by 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 carbohydrate 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 (1gm 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 (30 ml/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).



1.      Maughan, R.J. Energy and Macronutrient intakes of professional soccer players.  Br. J. Sports Med., 1997; 31:5-47.

2.      Hargreaves, M. Carbohydrate and lipid requirements of soccer.

3.      Balsom, P.D., Wood, K., Olsson, P., and Ekblom, B. Carbohydrate intake and multiple sprint sports with special reference to football.  Int. J. Sports Med., 1999; 20; 48-52.