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Football Medicine


Diet affects training and competition performance. Attention to detail can make that vital difference between small margins of victory versus defeat. To summarise nutrition and sport performance in football, F-MARC convened a consensus group of experts in September 2005, These scientific findings were published in the Journal of Sport Sciences in 2006.

Additionally, a lay summary of the conference was prepared in the booklet “Nutrition for Football” – presenting vital topics of nutrition that would improve the health and performance of players worldwide. This booklet contains special messages for specific players (e.g., elite, amateur, females, young, travelling) and provides a summary of the importance of nutrition in football performance and health:

Diet affects performance

Nutrient-rich diet with plenty of carbohydrates enables athletes to perform better and prevent injuries.

Every player is different

Diet plans need to be matched individually to training demands, match, injury and travel.

Good diet supports training

Nutrition impacts training: well-nourished players can handle more intense sessions.

Get the right amount of energy

Matching the calorie intake with the energy output is difficult.

Choose the right foods

Types of carbohydrate differ in how fast they can be metabolised.

Adequate protein

The body needs protein after exercise to rebuild damaged tissues and adapt for the next workout.

Importance of a varied diet of nutrient rich foods

Athletes should eat a varied diet, including all food groups – necessary to consume all vitamins and minerals.

Hydration is important for performance

Players need to be aware of the importance of hydration on performance, especially in hot environments, in order to replace vital fluids and salts lost by sweating.

Indiscriminate use of dietary supplements is discouraged

Dietary supplements are seldomly necessary if players choose well from all food groups. Careful, many supplements contain unlabelled ingredients that might trigger a positive doping test.

Although less common than in some (i.e. aesthetic) sports, recent findings show that football players are also dieting and suffering from the ‘Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport’ (RED-S); previously known as classic “triad” of eating disorders, menstrual dysfunction and stress fractures. The new term points to the complexity involved and the fact that male athletes are also affected. The cause of this syndrome is energy deficiency relative to the balance between dietary energy intake and energy expenditure required for health and activities of daily living, growth and sporting activities. Team doctors should have a basic knowledge of how to prevent RED-S and be aware of the warning signs.

Most important



1. Physical and metabolic demands of training and match play in the elite player – Bangsbo J, M Mohr, P Krustrup

2. Macronutrients and energy for training and recovery – Burke LM, A Loucks, N Broad

3. Nutrition on match day – Williams C, L Serratosa

4. Water and electrolyte needs for soccer training and match play – Shirreffs SM, M Sawka, M Stone

5. Promoting training adaptations through nutritional interventions – Hawley JA, KD Tipton, ML Millard-Stafford

6. Nutrition strategies for soccer: counteracting heat, cold, high altitude and jet lag – Armstrong LE

7. Alcohol and football – Maughan RJ

8. Dietary supplements for soccer – Hespel P, RJ Maughan, PL Greenhaff

9. Nutritional strategies to counter stress to the immune system in athletes, with special reference to soccer – Nieman DC, NC Bishop

10. The brain and fatigue: new opportunities for nutrition interventions – Meeusen R, P Watson, J Dvorak

11. Nutrition needs of female and youth soccer player – Rosenbloom C

12. Nutrition needs of the soccer referee – Reilly T, W Gregson