It’s coming home! What do professional footballers eat?

Bringing it home isn’t easy, and neither is staying on top of your nutrition as a professional footballer. Gone are the days of Wayne Rooney snacking on Coco Pops before the game or Rio Ferdinand sneaking in a couple of Jaffa Cakes at half-time; now it’s all about employing nutritionists and personal chefs to ensure the players are in peak condition. You only need to watch Ronaldo’s reaction to seeing a bottle of coke in front of him to get a good idea of just how seriously footballers take their nutrition!

On that note, here’s what a professional footballer typically eats in a day. 

Pre Match Supplement: Caffeine

A huge part of a footballer’s diet plan is caffeine, as research has found that it helps improve physical, cognitive, and technical performance. To prepare their body for 90 minutes of intense exercise, players always have a sports drink with them on match day, while sticking to tea or coffee as part of their pre-training breakfast. 


Footballers need plenty of carbohydrates to keep their energy levels up. Foods such as whole grain breads, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables are necessary for elite athletes, providing them with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help decrease inflammation and boost recovery. 

Here’s an idea of the type of carbohydrates footballers reach for: 

  • Whole grains – oats, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and low sugar cereals.
  • Fruit – fresh whole fruit like apples, bananas, pears, pineapple, and melon.
  • Non-starchy vegetables – broccoli, spinach, courgette, peppers, lettuce greens,  cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes
  • Starchy vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, butternut squash.
  • Beans and legumes – kidney beans, lentils, black beans, white beans
  • Dairy – fat free greek yoghurt, low-fat milk

Protein for building and repairing muscle

Within an hour of the final whistle, players need to eat protein to help their muscles recover properly. Choosing a meal with a good amount of lean, high quality protein will suffice; there isn’t really a need to continually reach for shakes and bars. Check out some of our high protein meal prep here or take some inspiration from this list: 

  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Fish 
  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains
  • Low fat dairy products

Snacking is key

Two or three snacks a day is ideal for footballers if they want to stay fuelled between meals. They tend to opt for snacks like apples with peanut butter, fruit and greek yoghurt, turkey, protein bars, protein shakes, and avocado. Though their meals will be tailored to keep them full throughout the day, it’s important they listen to their body and reach for healthy snacks whenever they feel hungry.

You could eat like a footballer too

Whether you play regularly or just simply want to get into better shape, we can create a meal prep plan fit for a footballer. Check out our healthy meals here or use our meal builder to create something more tailored to your needs.