How Much Does A Professional Soccer Player Eat?

During the course of conducting some soccer-specific research for a project I’ve got in the works, I happened to encounter a very intriguing study from 2017 which followed the dietary patterns of a handful of professional soccer players from the English Premier League.

This particular study, published in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, followed these professional soccer player’s diets over a 7-day period which included two match days and five training days.

While the study is limited by a small sample size and limited observation period, the results are still intriguing for those of us who are fascinated by the dietary habits of professional athletes.

Soccer is, of course, my favourite sport and generally a massive passion of mine so putting today’s post was a no-brainer for me.

In fact, you should expect more soccer-focused content to come in the near future.

With all that being said, I’m going to provide an overly simplified overview of study results.

Let’s get right to it.

Soccer Player Sample Macros

Values below are extrapolated averages and rounded for simplicity for the sake of this blog post

Training Day

Total Calories: 3,000

Calories from Fat:   900 (100 grams)

Calories from Protein: 800 ( 200 grams)

Calories from Carbohydrate: 1,300 ( 325 grams)  ( ~ 4 g/kg)

Game Day

Total Calories: 3,800

Calories from Fat:   900 (100 grams)

Calories from Protein: 800 ( 200 grams)

Calories from Carbohydrate: 2,100 ( 525 grams)  (~6 g/kg)

Quick Thoughts

There are obviously a number of limitations that prevent reading too deeply into this data, but it’s still pretty cool to look at.

There’s a clear trend towards what is known as periodization of carbohydrate intake whereby dietary carbohydrate, the primary fuel source for soccer, is greatly increased on match days where presumably much more energy will be expended.

Interestingly, the average intake values in this small sample of players demonstrate that protein and fat intake are within or above recommended guidelines but that carbohydrate intake may be less than what is recommended to optimize optimal performance/glycogen storage in high level athletes which could be as high as 7-10 g/kg of carbohydrate on days with very high energy expenditure (match days).

Certainly intriguing, but again we can’t read too much into this limited data and really this post is for fascination above all else.

More to come soon.

Until then, those of you are really into the macro-side of nutrition might enjoy the content of my Macro Cookbook For Men, linked below.

Andy De Santis RD MPH