What are the dietary requirements of a Premier League footballer?
As high-performance athletes, diet is incredibly important to the performance levels and longevity of Premier League footballers. Many players will cover up to 10km during games meaning they need to make sure they are fuelled for 90 minutes. They run so much in fact, that they can burn up to 1500 calories over the course of a single game. They need to remain on top of their diet throughout the entire season, meaning many players now hire their own chefs to help maintain specific diets, tailored to their needs. Breakfast is a crucial meal for players to fuel themselves for high intensity exercise.
Experts at Science of Sport have said that for a 70kg player, this could be 140g of carbohydrate in a breakfast, such as 1 one large bowl of cereal with milk; two slices of white toast with jam; 300ml of fresh orange juice. However, every player is different according to their role and style of play. Let’s break down the diets of players by their position.
As they are perhaps the least active players on the pitch, there is a common misconception that goalkeepers don’t really need to pay attention to their diet as much. However, as well as needing to eat right to maintain their agility, they also need it for their mental attributes. The most important traits for keepers are concentration and reflexes. If they are eating heavy foods that are high in saturated fats, they are likely to become sluggish, thus lose their concentration. For this reason, it is important they eat plenty of vegetables to maintain peak performance through vitamins and minerals. They are also going to need to be slightly more lean than other players as they need quick reflexes and agility.
Defensive players need to be some of the strongest on the pitch. For this reason, it is important they are on a high protein diet to aid muscle growth, body composition and metabolic health. That is not the only pro to a high protein diet, however. Defenders play a very high intensity, physical game and put a lot of strain on their body over 90 minutes. Due to the physical pressure, they are putting on themselves their muscles, ligaments and tendons deteriorate. However, protein rich foods will combat this by helping the body to rebuild after a long session of exercise.
Midfielders are the engine of a matchday 11 and will usually dictate the speed of the game as well as balancing both defensive and attacking duties. This means they will be constantly bombing up and down the pitch for the duration of the game. Because of this, it is integral that midfielders have plenty of carbohydrates in their diet. Carbs are the bodies main source of fuel, and a healthy balance will improve players’ energy levels. Like defenders, they also need plenty of protein, especially to encourage muscle, tendon and ligament recovery due to the high workload.
The diet of an attacker will often depend on the role they are playing. Players who are quick off the mark and like to use their pace to play on the shoulder of defenders will want plenty of carbs to maintain that kind of movement through the match. They will also want to balance this with protein to aid recovery. Target men who like to use their body to hold up the ball or play it on to other players are likely to have a high protein diet to ward off defenders.
What do the players say?
Liverpool winger Mo Salah is one of the best attacking players in the world. According to teammate Andy Robertson, Salah enjoys eating lentils, vegetables, bread and chicken, as well as finishing with a bowl of yogurt. Bread and lentils are high in carbs which will energise him when running down the wing with his blistering pace. Chicken is an incredible source of protein and plenty of players will eat chicken to aide their muscle growth. Sports betting currently has Liverpool as 3/1 to win the Premier League this season as the title race between them and champions Manchester City hots up.
PSG Defender Sergio Ramos has bulked up considerably throughout his career in order to maintain his strength. In an interview with High Snobiety, Ramos revealed his breakfast is easy to replicate before training. He said: “I usually take a coffee, some whole-grain bread with protein like turkey breast or a poached egg, and a piece of fruit.”
He will also eat plenty of fish at dinner and protein shakes throughout the day in order to maintain a high protein diet balanced with plenty of exercise.
A nutritious diet is integral to the success of the modern-day footballer. You can have all the skill in the world, but if you cannot maintain those levels for 90 minutes it will all be for nothing. As well as aiding performance, a good diet will also extend careers of players allowing them to play to a high standard well into their 30s.