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15 Great Snacks To Boost Football Performance

15 snacks to boost football performance

Snacks are something any football player can benefit off. Having said that, snack selection and timing are two aspects that need to be considered whenever the footballer/sports nutritionist tries to optimize snacks for football performance and training.

In addition to that, snacks can come in pretty handy, offering the footballer a convenient nutrition solution before, during, and after a game or training session. If you’re a footballer that wants to maximize his/her nutrition, you’ve got to read this article.

What Snacks Should A Footballer Eat?

Snacks can be easily implemented in someone’s daily nutrition to aid his/her performance and/or training goals. Therefore, we can identify four snack categories/types:

  1. High-Protein Snacks (Muscle Growth & Recovery)
  2. High-Carbohydrate Snacks (Carb-Loading)
  3. High-Calorie Snacks (Weight/Muscle Gain)
  4. Low-Calorie Snacks (Fat-Loss)

Here’s a list of 15 snacks that any football player can consume to aid performance, recovery, or any other goal he/she has.

  1. Cottage Cheese on (Whole Wheat) Toast and Turkey Slices
  2. Greek Yoghurt with Fruit
  3. Eggs on (Whole Wheat) Toast
  4. Bananas
  5. Dried Fruit
  6. Dark Chocolate
  7. Almonds
  8. Oat Bars
  9. Fruit with Peanut Butter
  10. Tuna on Rice-Cakes
  11. Protein Smoothie
  12. Tuna Salad
  13. Protein Bars
  14. Low-Calorie Smoothie (High in Micronutrients)
  15. High-Protein Sandwich 

Breaking Down Each Snack For Football

Cottage Cheese on (Whole Wheat) Toast and Turkey Slices

Ingredients

  • Cottage Cheese (100gr)
  • Turkey (2 Slices)
  • (Whole Wheat) Toast (2 Slices)

Kcal – 302, Protein – 31gr, Carbohydrates – 32gr, Fats – 7gr, Fiber – 5gr

Greek Yoghurt with Fruit

Ingredients

  • Low-Fat Greek Yoghurt (200gr)
  • Banana (1 Medium)
  • Mixed Berries (Handful)
  • Chia Seeds (1 tbsp.)
  • Cinnamon 

Kcal – 305, Protein – 22gr, Carbohydrates – 42gr, Fats – 7gr, Fiber – 6gr

Eggs on (Whole Wheat) Toast

Ingredients

  • Whole Eggs (2)
  • Egg-White (1)
  • (Whole Wheat) Toast (2 Slices)

Kcal – 310, Protein – 22gr, Carbohydrates – 29gr, Fats – 12gr, Fiber – 5gr

Bananas

Bananas are great snacks that are filled with simple carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, like potassium. Great snack for fast absorption, making it “ideal” as a pre-game/training snack. You might as well include it in your half-time strategy to replenish some of the glycogen you lost.

One medium banana contains:

Kcal – 100, Protein – 1gr, Carbohydrates – 30gr, Fats – 0gr, Fiber – 3gr

Dried Fruit

Dried fruits are another great source of simple carbohydrates you can consume just before your training, workout, or match to “load” on carbs and fill up your glycogen stores. There’s a huge selection of dried fruit. We recommend dates, figs, raisins, black currants, etc.

Having said that, dried fruit selection and portioning are dependent on your own preferences as well as the time you consume them. As a rule of thumb, aim for 20-40gr of carbohydrates in your portion, which usually isn’t more than the size of your palm.

Dark Chocolate

In comparison to other chocolate alternatives, dark chocolate has been found to be very nutritious and beneficial to the human body, even for football performance. Dark chocolate is a really powerful antioxidant that is also rich in simple carbohydrates. Various studies point out that dark chocolate can improve recovery [1] and cognitive function [2].

Due to its simple carb content, it can be a great pre-and mid-game snack to fill up on glycogen faster. In comparison to regular chocolate, dark alternatives are a far greater option, however, they should be consumed in moderation. 30-50gr would be a good portion to experience its performance or recovery benefits.

Nuts

Nuts are snacks that are calorie-dense due to their high, unsaturated fat content. They have multiple health benefits and the variety is endless, including almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.

Nuts can be a great snack for those football players that are seeking to gain weight/muscle and add more calories to their daily diet. They can also be utilized as snacks in-between football games and training sessions as a fast and energy-efficient snack. A usual portion doesn’t exceed the size of your palm. Be aware of their high-fat and calorie content though as this might interfere with a nutrition centered around fat-loss for football.

Oat and Granola Bars

Oat bars are a quick snack that is high in carbohydrates, boosting your glycogen stores and helping you maximize your performance. There are plenty of recipes available online as well as many options in your local grocery shop. Opt for something as natural as possible.

Here’s a quick and easy no-bake recipe we found online. Click here.

Fruit with Peanut Butter

Cut some fruit into thick slices (we prefer apples) and spread some peanut butter on them. A delicious snack that will boost your energy.

Ingredients

  • Apple (1 Medium)
  • Peanut Butter (2 tbsp.)

Kcal – 275, Protein – 6gr, Carbohydrates – 33gr, Fats – 15gr, Fiber – 5gr

Tuna on Rice-Cakes

Ingredients

  • Tuna (1 Can)
  • Rice-Cakes (5)
  • Lemon Juice

Kcal – 170, Protein – 31gr, Carbohydrates – 8gr, Fats – 3gr, Fiber – 3gr

Protein Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Skim/Soy Milk (250ml)
  • Whey Protein (1 Scoop) or Low-Fat Greek Yoghurt (200gr)
  • Banana (1 Medium)
  • Mixed Berries (Handful)
  • Chia Seeds (1 tbsp.)

Kcal – 498, Protein – 41gr, Carbohydrates – 72gr, Fats – 9gr, Fiber – 10gr

Tuna Salad

Ingredients

  • Quinoa (1/2 Cup)
  • Tuna (1 Can)
  • Leafy Greens (Mixed – 3 Handfuls)
  • Chia Seeds (1 tbsp.)
  • Salt & Vinegar

Kcal – 365, Protein – 33gr, Carbohydrates – 40gr, Fats – 6gr, Fiber – 5gr

Protein Bars

Protein bars are very popular in the fitness industry. They’re usually consumed after exercise as protein is a macronutrient that aids muscle growth and recovery. Nowadays, you can find a huge variety of them in pretty much any grocery and supplement store. However, just because they’re labeled as protein bars doesn’t necessarily mean that they are healthy.

Search for protein bars that are made of natural ingredients or make your own at home. Here’s another recipe we found online that is pretty easy to make. Click here.

Low-Calorie Smoothie (High in Micronutrients)

Ingredients

  • Water (200ml)
  • Banana (1 Medium)
  • Orange (1 Medium)
  • Mixed Berries (Handful)
  • Pineapple (2 Slices)
  • Kiwi (1)
  • A bit of Ginger

High-Protein Sandwich

Ingredients

  • (Whole Wheat) Toast (2 Slices)
  • Tuna (1 Can)
  • Lettuce Leafs (2-3)
  • Mini-Tomatoes (2-3)
  • Low-Calorie Mayonnaise (1 tbsp.)

Kcal – 324, Protein – 38gr, Carbohydrates – 35gr, Fats – 6gr, Fiber – 6gr

Pre-Game/Training Snacks For Football

As we’ve already mentioned, snacks can be utilized during various times of the day to aid our performance and training goals. One of those instances is the 15-minute to 2-hour period before a football training session or match.

During that time, a football player might be in search of a snack. But what should this snack be?

As you already know from numerous articles we have written here (check this out), simple carbohydrates are a far better option just before a game or training session in comparison to complex ones.

The reason behind this is that your body digests and absorbs simple carbohydrates much easier and faster. This provides you with a “rapid” boost of your glycogen stores, your body’s primary source for ATP (energy) production during activities such as football.

In addition to that, you should also be looking to get in some minerals with your snacks. Usually, fruits, like bananas, are filled with them.

Your pre-game or training session snack should be rich in simple carbohydrates. This includes snacks and foods like:

  • Fruit
  • Dried Fruit
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Granola Bars
  • Organic Honey
  • Sugar
  • Fruit with Peanut Butter
  • Rice-Cakes
  • Toast
  • Oat Bars

In-Game/Training Snacks For Football

Expanding further into the timing of your snacks we couldn’t forget to mention the importance of placing some snacks during your activity. Since you’re losing nutrients and fluids during performance and your glycogen stores get depleted, you should be looking for something that is low in volume yet rich in nutrients such as simple carbohydrates and electrolytes (minerals).

DO YOU KNOW THE FGM MID-GAME/HALF-TIME STRATEGY? WELL, HERE IT IS…

Here’s a list with all the snacks a football player can include in his half-time strategy and water breaks:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Watermelon
  • Rice-Cakes
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Natural Energy Bars
  • Toast
  • Sugar
  • Organic Honey
  • Dark Chocolate

Post-Game/Training Snacks For Football

In contrast to your pre-and in-game/training snacks, your post-game/training snacks need to be optimized for other purposes. These usually have to do with muscle growth and recovery. Therefore, you should be looking at snacks with high protein content.

Why? Because protein is a macronutrient that plays a major role in a process called muscle protein-synthesis which is responsible for muscle reconstruction.

So, here are some ingredients and snacks that are high in protein and can be easily implemented into your diet after a 90-minute football game or training session.

  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yoghurt with Fruit
  • Eggs on (Whole Wheat) Toast
  • Tuna on Rice-Cakes
  • Tuna Salad
  • Protein Smoothie
  • Protein Bars
  • High Protein Sandwich
  • Turkey Slices
  • Whey Protein Powder

Snacks For Fat-Loss In Football

Fat-loss is a process many football players (have to) go through. The inclusion of snacks in a footballer’s diet that is trying to lose fat is something that can be pretty helpful when trying to achieve the feeling of satiety, which is a major problem for many players in this process.

Although fat-loss isn’t dependent on one “fat-burning” meal or ingredient, there are some snacks you can include in your daily diet to shy away from hunger and sustain a caloric deficit at the same time.

Football players that want to lose fat can consume snacks that are either a) high in protein and/or b) high in volume and low in caloric density. This includes snacks and ingredients like:

  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Turkey Slices
  • Protein Smoothies
  • Natural Protein Bars
  • High Protein Sandwich
  • Salads
  • Low-Calorie Smoothies

Snacks For Weight/Muscle Gain In Football

Since fat-loss is a process where the footballer is required to stay in a calorie deficit, then muscle and weight gain is a process during which the player needs to be in a caloric surplus (consume more calories than the ones you burn on a daily basis).

Again, there are NO meals and ingredients that are “mass-gainers”. That’s another marketing gimmick many supplement brands and products use to buy you into their stuff.

However, there are certain foods and meals that can HELP you in the process of gaining muscle mass and weight.

Having said that, you should be emphasizing two types of snacks.

  1. High-protein snacks
  2. Calorie-dense snacks

On one hand, we would like you to sustain a high protein intake to aid muscle growth and recovery, and on the other hand, we would also like you to include some calorie-dense snacks to add some more calories into your diet and achieve a caloric surplus much easier.

So here are another 11 snacks and ingredients that can help you gain weight and muscle as a football player:

  • Eggs
  • Tuna
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Turkey Slices
  • Protein Smoothies
  • Natural Protein Bars
  • High Protein Sandwich
  • Nuts
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocados

The Sum Up

Snacks are often getting criticized by many people, mainly due to the fact that they’re attached to “bad” foods and ingredients. However, after reading this article, I’m quite sure you recognized the effectiveness and power a snack can have inside your day, especially if we’re talking about performance.

Instead of demonizing and cutting off snacks from your nutrition, experiment with yourself and try out what works the best for you. Whether you’re trying to lose fat, gain muscle, recover faster, or boost your performance on game-days, snacks can help you with that.

Snacks are just a means to an end. Find a way to include them in your nutrition by tweaking some things here and there and trust me, you will benefit from them.

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REFERENCES

[1] Cavarretta E, Peruzzi M, Del Vescovo R, Di Pilla F, Gobbi G, Serdoz A, Ferrara R, Schirone L, Sciarretta S, Nocella C, De Falco E, Schiavon S, Biondi-Zoccai G, Frati G, Carnevale R. Dark Chocolate Intake Positively Modulates Redox Status and Markers of Muscular Damage in Elite Football Athletes: A Randomized Controlled Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018 Nov 21;2018:4061901. doi: 10.1155/2018/4061901. PMID: 30584461; PMCID: PMC6280237.

[2] Sumiyoshi E, Matsuzaki K, Sugimoto N, Tanabe Y, Hara T, Katakura M, Miyamoto M, Mishima S, Shido O. Sub-Chronic Consumption of Dark Chocolate Enhances Cognitive Function and Releases Nerve Growth Factors: A Parallel-Group Randomized Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 16;11(11):2800. doi: 10.3390/nu11112800. PMID: 31744119; PMCID: PMC6893800.

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