Nutrition for Soccer Players

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Whether you’re playing at the recreational or premier levels; proper nutrition for soccer plays a massive role in performance and recovery. Below is a food list that will help you make better choices to help increase performance. Depending on age, weight, height and gender your caloric needs may vary. The other factors that may take into account is playing time. If you’re a role player and spend 20 minutes on the field, your needs may not be that of someone playing 80-90 minutes. Please keep this in mind during game day nutrition. For individualized approach please contact James Walsh**.

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  • Eggs; Organic or brown
  • Chicken
  • Fish; Wild Caught; High in Omega-3’s
  • Tuna; in water
  • Beef; Grass fed or antibiotic free
  • Veal
  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • (Protein powders if needed)

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  • Olive Oil; Extra Virgin
  • Coconut Oil, Organic
  • Dairy Butter; Grass Fed, Cheeses; Heavy Cream
  • Avocado
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dark Chocolate; 85% Cocoa

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  • Vegetables; provides fiber; Micro-nutrients (Green leafy, Broccoli, Green Beans, Asparagus, Kale, Spinach, Beets, Cucumbers, Carrots (Starch), Peas (Starch), Cauliflower, Peppers, Squash (Starch))
  • Complex Carbohydrates; Gluten Free and Non-GMO (Oats, Rice, Potatoes; Sweet and White, Pasta, Beans, Quinoa)
  • Fruits; Limit the amount of Fructose intake ( Any Berry; Blueberries, Blackberries; Strawberries; Raspberries, Dark pitted Cherries, Grapefruit, Oranges, Apples, Grapes, Pineapple, Plums, Bananas)

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Nutrition timing in sports can help or hinder your progress and development. We will give you a few examples on how to eat in-season and during times of high playing times such as tournament weekends.

We will base the first example on a 17-year-old male; 170lbs; and 5’8”; practicing 4 days a week with two weekend games. The total caloric need for maintenance is roughly 3,045kcal. The optimal intake of nutrients would be. 169g of Protein; 77g of Fats; 419g of Carbohydrates. Here is an example of what this would look like in food…


Often a missed opportunity for calories and beginning the day with energy. High Schools students often overlook PE periods or any other weight training during school; which requires energy.

  • (2) Instant Maple and Brown sugar
  • Oatmeal
  • 1 Extra Large Egg
  • ½ c. of blueberries
  • 1 Orange
  • 32 oz. water
  • 523.5 kcal
  • 97.5g CHO
  • 10g Fats
  • 17g Proteins

Mid-Morning Snack (Protein Shake)

To keep the body in a “feed” state; protein replacement is key to keeping body composition and muscle tissues from breaking down further.

  • Whey Protein Powder 30g
  • 1 ½ c. 2% Milk
  • 1 Apple
  • 582 kcal
  • 57.5g CHO
  • 22.6g Fats
  • 42.6g Proteins

Post Workout (after practice more than 90 minutes)

The body is going to require a replacement of Carbohydrates & Proteins after a demanding session.

  • 1 Banana
  • 32oz. water


To continue the recovery process, we need a balanced meal.

  • 2 c. Brown Rice
  • 2c. Bed of Spinach
  • 8 oz. Grilled Chicken Breast
  • 1 c. Broccoli
  • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 880.8 kcal
  • 97.8g CHO
  • 23.7g Fats
  • 67.7g Protein

Bedtime (60 minutes prior to sleep)

This will aid in recovery and growth of muscle tissues. This will also serve as a way to use more fats at rest that proteins.

  • Whey Powder 30g
  • 1 c 2% Milk
  • 1 c Grapes

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Based on a 3 game weekend we will look at food options on the road as well as being prepared. Planning ahead will be required. You must get the most out of your road trip. For most adults relying on availability and comfort, often they turn to quick food choices. I often recommend packing a griddle and rice cooker. This way you can cook quick foods and offer your athlete a better choice. However, if that is not feasible, restaurants such as Panera or Chick-Fil-a may serve you better.

Game 1 9:00am

Breakfast 7:00am (Please allow time for digestion)

  • (1) Panera Bread Plain Bagel w/ Cream Cheese Spread
  • Whey Protein 30g
  • 1 Orange (used as anti-oxidant)
  • 686 kcal
  • 84g CHO
  • 20.5g Fats
  • 37g Protein

Post Game (Immediate replenishment)

  • 12-16 oz. Chocolate Milk; no high fructose corn syrup

Lunch 12:00pm (Between Game 1&2)

Getting creative on the road can be difficult. If at all possible, avoid eating fast food. We can put together rice and chicken meals with a little planning and creativity. Rice from a Chinese restaurant and a rotisserie from a local deli could help recover, and prepare you for your next game. Options such as Carrabba’s or Olive Garden would be good option. However, if these options are not around or close by; looking at the same food profile in a sandwich maybe another solution. Larry’s Giant Sub’s offers hormone free, gluten free choices. Chick-Fil-a offers wraps and salads. Drink plenty of water, save the Gatorade for during the game.


This is a no brainer; you have more time to recovery and make better decisions. This also includes options that may not have been available during the day due to distance and time. Make sensible decisions that will give you a balanced meal. Proteins and vegetables with a little added fat such as olive oil or butter. Once dinner is complete, allow the body to recover even more by getting at least 8 hours of sleep.

Recovery Options

  • POOL! Move around in the pool to help blood flow to muscles.
  • Foam Roll always! Spend 10 minutes rolling out IT Bands and hamstrings
  • Ice baths. Not everyone’s favorite, however it works. Spend 8 minutes in at least groin deep water. Legs should be submerged.
  • Food Choices; optimal intake of nutrients
  • Band Stretching. This is done with a thera-band.

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James Walsh is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist with emphasis in youth development & corrective exercise. He also holds a diploma as a Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner and certificate in Sports Nutrition. He is also on a board of directors for personal training at a local college in Jacksonville, Florida. James’s passion for athletics began as a young man playing goalkeeper and going through the ODP process. James has coached soccer at toddler to high school levels.

He has worked with many populations over his 9 years as a Strength Coach and has had great success from restoring physical health to helping people with new lifestyle adaptions. James also has had contributing articles to local newspapers on health and training. Out of all his accomplishments, He is a proud husband to an amazing and supportive wife and father of 3 awesome kids. If you would like to get in touch with James, please visit or by e-mailing him at [email protected] for more information.

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Want to Join The Club?

Our home fields are located at the Dennis Eagle Harbor Soccer Complex in Clay County, and is one of the largest soccer clubs in Florida. We serve over 2500 youths of Clay and neighboring counties for Recreational, Academy, Premier and Semi-Professional Soccer.


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