IT’S come home – all thanks to the Lionesses.

And now fans have a new season and the World Cup this winter to look forward to.

We break down what a professional footballer eats and reveals nutrition tips for you to focus on, here Jack GrealishGetty

Liam reveals ‘To achieve the fitness levels that pro footballers are in, it comes down to one thing – consistently eating the right things’

There’s no doubt the physical demands of the beautiful game are gruelling for players in the top flight.

But what might surprise you is that you too can follow their lead when it comes to healthy eating.

Performance nutritionist Liam Holmes has worked in elite sport for 12 years, and has helped footballers at Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and the Republic of Ireland national team.

Liam, who is currently working with Celtic and owns pH Nutrition, tells Sun Health: “To achieve the fitness levels and get in the shape that pro footballers are in, it comes down to one thing – consistently eating the right things.”

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Here, Liam breaks down what a professional footballer eats and reveals nutrition tips for you to focus on.

The night before

Getty – ContributorCarb loading isn’t a myth – it’s still something players do[/caption]

CARB loading isn’t a myth – it’s still something players do. It’s just a lot more controlled than back in the “eat all the pasta possible” days, Liam says.

“I encourage the players I work with to make this meal fairly similar each time – you don’t want to be experimenting the night before the match,” he adds.

“Most players will eat the exact same meal the night before a match every single time.


“If you are planning a big workout or have a big football match, I always advise this strategy.

“Their meal will consist of a large serving of carbs such as rice, potatoes, grains or breads, accompanied by a portion of lean protein and vegetables.

“This balanced meal helps top up energy stores ready for the match whilst providing micronutrients for recovery.”

On match day

THE main focus for match day is “topping up”, Liam explains.

“Players are advised not to overload their bodies by trying to eat lots of calories ahead of a match,” he says. “We don’t want players to still be digesting their meal in the warm-up.

“What players eat will depend on the time of the match, but a typical pre-match meal will tend to consist of a small serving of lean protein, some simple carbs like a handful of brown rice, a few veggies and a small serving of fat, like cheese or avocado.

“Players are encouraged to eat low-fibre carbs such as rice, pasta and bread with easily digestible veg like peas, corn and carrots so they feel light and ready to go by the warm-up.”

After the game

Getty – ContributorAfter the game players will ‘take some form of recovery shake, which includes protein, electrolytes and carbohydrates’ reveals Liam[/caption]

THERE’S a good reason the “player of the match” doesn’t get champagne anymore, Liam explains.

“Alcohol is not a good idea immediately after a game,” he says.

“It’s important that players follow the three Rs – rehydrate, repair and replenish.

“Players will take some form of recovery shake, which includes protein, electrolytes and carbohydrates to kick-start the process.

“Lots of protein shakes now include all of these as standard so you can easily have these yourself.

“We then advise players to eat a meal 60 to 90 minutes after a match with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables. Usually appetite is suppressed after a game so using finger food-style meals or smaller dishes can help get players to eat.”

The day after

TO ease muscle pains and boost energy levels, players usually start the day with eggs, Greek yoghurt, nuts, berries, smoothies and beans, Liam reveals.

And after a morning of stretching and massage, lunch continues the recovery theme.

“Salmon, beef, chicken thigh, potatoes, grains and lots of fruit and veg are on the menu,” he says.

“It is key on these days to make sure protein intake is consistent across the day, to aid muscle repair, so players will snack once or twice in the afternoon before dinner and then before bed.

“The pre bed snack will usually be Greek yoghurt and fruit or cottage cheese and oat cakes to provide slow releasing protein overnight and aid recovery even further.”

What they avoid…

GettyPlayers are advised to avoid deep-fried food, including very oily food like chips[/caption]

THIS might come as a surprise but nothing is really off-limits for pro footballers.

Liam says: “Alcohol is usually removed as much as possible and if the players do have a drink then they usually wait until off season.

“Players need variety in their diets to get ultimate nutrition, so away from matches they can add in their favourite foods.”

That said, they are advised to avoid – and most do – deep-fried food, very oily food like chips, sweets and processed foods like biscuits, crisps and cakes.

“They avoid these ultra-processed foods because they have little to no nutritional qualities and they can contribute to inflammation – something that we actively want to avoid as much as possible for footballers,” Liam adds.

…and preferred snacks

TOP players are human, and like the rest of us they need to snack.

“Trying to sneak anti-inflammatory foods in is something we try to encourage players to do when they are snacking,” says Liam.

“Dark-coloured fruits such as berries, green veg, oily fish such as salmon, tomatoes, peppers and spices can all help recovery.”

Holiday food

HOLIDAYS are a time to treat yourself – even if you’re a top-flight player.

“These days it’s true that players are far more conscious of the effects of alcohol and poor-quality food – even while on holiday,” Liam says.

“But in the off season players naturally are more relaxed when it comes to the foods they limit during the season.

“They will make sure they eat a balanced diet still, but might sneak in a few biscuits and crisps.

“Due to the demands of elite football now there is less time off so the players still need to be eating well to support recovery.”

Fancy a coffee…

GettyTaking caffeine in a coffee or energy drink 45 to 60 minutes pre-match or pre-training can help performance’, says Liam[/caption]

GOOD news – if you want to emulate the top flight, there’s no need to ditch your morning cuppa.

“Caffeine is one of the most researched performance-enhancing substances available for players to use,” Liam says.

“It can help endurance, sprint performance and decision-making so most players drink coffee but time when they drink it specifically around training and matches.

“Taking caffeine in a coffee or energy drink 45 to 60 minutes pre-match or pre-training can help performance.

“Footballers also really prioritise their sleep so they are wary of drinking coffee past 2pm because it can interrupt your ability to sleep.”

….and a slice of cake?

YOU might be surprised to hear cake is a very necessary part of a player’s diet.

Being on the ball with your nutrition seven days a week for an entire season is impossible, even for the best players.

And while chowing down on a few doughnuts just before a match is not advised, Liam explains the high-sugar treats have their place.

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He says: “Things like cakes and sweets are very energy-dense, so it can actually help when replenishing energy stores during tough periods of matches as they are usually high in carbohydrates.

“So it isn’t completely unheard of anymore for players to enjoy a cake, biscuit or even cheesecake – as it is also high in protein – at half time.”

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