What to Eat Before a Football Match

What to Eat Before a Football Match

Amon Fearon - January 30, 2023

Did you know that the average premier league footballer covers around 10km in a 90-minute match, with almost 600m covered at full sprint speed? That's why the food a footballer consumes before a game is so important, especially in maintaining stamina and performance towards the latter part of the game. While amateur football may not be as demanding, good matchday nutrition is just as important for helping you maximise your potential on the pitch. Eating correctly before and after a football match keeps you fit and healthy, increases energy levels, builds the right foundation for a positive mindset and can even help you avoid injury.

This guide on what to eat before (and after) a football match will ensure you always perform your best. We chatted to French model, TikTok enthusiast and Castore Athlete, Christian Bordin - on his tips on what he eats before a football match. Here's what he had to say… 

How long before a football match should I eat?

Planning what you eat and when before a match is just as important as ensuring you know what to wear to play football. You should aim to eat your main meal between two and four hours before the start of the match, so it has time to digest before the game. A meal rich in carbohydrates before a game will help to top up your carbohydrate energy stores. To avoid the risk of stomach discomfort or bloating during a game, choose foods that are low in fat and fibre and moderate in protein. Before a match, many footballers will eat foods like:

  • Chicken
  • Pasta
  • Oily fish
  • Eggs
  • Blueberries
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Chia seeds
  • Beetroot

Why do footballers eat a lot before a match?

Footballers may seem to eat a lot before a match, but it enables them to keep up with the physical and mental demands of the game. Fuelling up with protein, nutrients, and carbohydrates, as well as hydration, helps them reach optimal performance. Before a match, footballers should eat foods mainly comprised of carbohydrates to enhance liver glycogen, continue to replenish muscle glycogen throughout the game, replenish blood glucose levels and provide energy to the brain. The fluid footballers consume before a game also helps them maintain hydration.

What to eat the day before a football match?

What you eat the day before a football match plays a key role in your performance on the pitch. While you should aim to eat more carbohydrates than usual, that doesn't mean consuming them by the bucket load. Starchy foods like rice, potatoes and pasta will provide a good carbohydrate-rich meal that will give you the right fuel for the next day's match. Chicken or lean fish, some green veg, especially spinach packed with antioxidants and vitamins, and a jacket potato, sweet potato, rice or pasta is a good bet. It's a good idea to avoid eating any new foods you've not eaten before or anything spicy in case they upset your stomach during the match. Aim to eat your evening meal at least two hours before bed to give the food plenty of time to digest.

What do footballers eat on match day?

What footballers eat on match day plays a significant role in their performance on the pitch. They fuel up with a balanced meal at least three hours before the match and then add some healthy snacks, such as a few pieces of fruit, cereal energy bar or yoghurt, to ensure they're match-fit while keeping themselves hydrated before, during and after a game.


Carbohydrates are a footballer's friend on match day, fuelling their brain and muscles to ensure they function at their best. Your body can store a certain amount of carbohydrates for later that will fuel around one hour of physical activity. A footballer must consume carbohydrates throughout the day before a match to ensure their muscles have as much stored energy as possible.

Some types of carbs are more effective in providing sufficient fuel before a match. For instance, starchy carbohydrates are ideal as they break down and can be stored as glycogen to provide the body with a consistent energy source over a few hours. Potatoes, pasta, rice, bread (ideally wholemeal unless just before a game), oatmeal, cereals, vegetables, and fruit are healthy carb options. Footballers should aim to consume at least 70 grams of carbohydrates as part of their pre-game meal and around 30 grams as part of a snack.


While protein contributes just a small amount of the fuel a footballer needs before a match, it forms the building blocks for making muscles and other tissues in the body. A pre-match meal requires only a moderate amount of protein, which can be found in chicken breasts, fish such as tuna, peanut butter, an energy bar or dairy products. Protein should have a bigger role after the match.

We asked Christian what he typically eats before a football match and here is what he had to say…

“Before the game, I will have Chicken, Rice and Spinach. I always try to have 2G of protein per KG of my weight. I am 86KG so I have 170G of chicken. I will have 100g of rice (8g per kilo) and 80g of Spinach, spinach is great for boosting testosterone. Just before the match, I will have a banana for the full energy and drink 3L of water. “

What not to eat before a football match?

Before a football match, you should avoid eating anything that could leave you feeling bloated or give you stomach cramps. For instance:

  • Alcohol: Rather than keeping you hydrated, alcohol has diuretic properties, is dehydrating and exercising after drinking alcohol can lead to injury.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Avoid eating or drinking anything that contains artificial sweeteners, as this can affect digestion and cause an upset stomach
  • Caffeine: While small amounts of caffeine can help during exercise, drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, can leave you hydrated and should be replaced with plain water
  • Carbonated drinks: The bubbles from the carbonation will remain in your stomach and cause indigestion
  • Desserts: Cakes, pastries, cookies, doughnuts and ice cream are high in the wrong type of nutrients and not what you want in your body when you need it to perform at its best
  • Fatty foods: Avoid eating fatty foods before a match as these will likely remain undigested and sit in your stomach during the game and may cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting or nausea
  • Spicy foods: Spicy foods can cause heartburn which you don't want during a football match, so sticking to bland and easy-to-digest foods is best

While there are foods you should avoid eating altogether before a football match, there are also certain foods you should limit before a game.

  • Dairy products: If you are sometimes sensitive to dairy, it's a good idea to avoid consuming anything diary based for one to two hours before a match to avoid stomach cramps during the game
  • Fat: While fat is part of a balanced diet, it's best to limit how much you eat before a football match. Fats can take a long time to digest and may sit in your stomach for hours, causing you discomfort as you play
  • Fibre: Eating some vegetables and fruit on the day of a football match is fine, but don't overdo it, as too much can cause stomach problems
  • Processed foods: Try to limit how much-processed food you eat before a match, as it can drain you of energy and impair your metabolism
  • Sugar: Sugar might give you a quick energy boost, but you risk experiencing a crash later as your blood sugar drops which can leave you feeling fatigued
  • Protein: It takes longer for your body to digest than starch, so limit your protein intake to just a moderate amount before a football match. The ideal time for protein is after the football match

We asked Christian to talk us through the food groups he would typically avoid ahead of match day. I would avoid red meat before, eating red meat before a game can increase your production of lactic acid.  I also avoid processed food, fast food, alcohol, and soda.”

What do footballers eat after a match?

After a match, footballers focus on the three Rs – repair, replenish and rehydrate. They will kickstart the process with a recovery shake containing protein, carbohydrates and electrolytes. Players usually eat a meal between 60 to 90 minutes after a game that includes carbohydrates, protein and vegetables. As a player's appetite is usually suppressed after a match, smaller dishes or even finger food can help players eat. Post-match meals should contain around 20 to 30g of high-quality protein, such as chicken or fish, to boost muscle-building, alongside plenty of vegetables, salad, and fruit to help muscle recovery.

Footballers also have to replace the fluid they lost during the game, which also replaces the electrolytes they lost during intense physical activity. Milk, flavoured milk or an electrolyte tablet dissolved in water are effective options. To complement their matchday diet, many footballers also take supplements such as Omega 3, multivitamins and probiotics. These supplements help support energy stores, metabolise macronutrients and maintain a healthy digestive system.

We asked Christian what foods he prioritises after a football match… 

After the match finishes I have a protein shake with coconut water. I will add some blueberries because it's antioxidant and some almonds for good fats. 

My first meal after a football match will typically be pasta with meatballs and some veggies.”

The day after a match

To boost energy levels and ease muscle pains the day after a game, footballers will often start the day with eggs, Greek yoghurt, berries, nuts, beans and smoothies. Their lunch may also contain beef, chicken thigh or salmon, grains, and plenty of fruit and veg to continue the recovery process.

What a footballer eats on match day can make or break their performance, especially at the highest level, where the physical demands can be gruelling. Whether you are a top-flight footballer or a keen amateur, eating the right food before and after a game and avoiding foods that could negatively impact performance is fundamental. So, before your next game, focus on consuming slow-release carbohydrates, eat around two to three hours before kick-off and keep up your fluid intake. Then after the match, switch your focus to protein to help optimise your recovery.

We asked Christian what are your tips for recovering after a football match?

“I will drink coconut water to avoid cramps.

I'm a huge fan of ice baths for recovery. I like to do an active recovery. I bike at a low intensity for 30 minutes the next day with some mobility and stretching - this helps to make the blood flow around your body.”

For inspiration on what to wear before a football match, check out our football clothing collection.