Game Day Nutrition

Fuelling and hydrating for a morning game starts the day before. Use this time to offer meals and snacks based on quality carbohydrates and encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. Most footballers that I know have specific foodie traditions the night before a game. In our house, spaghetti bolognese is served with a dessert of ice-cream. This has been Nigel’s meal the night before a game for his entire professional (and junior) career. I literately have a freezer stocked with spaghetti bol to keep us organised. Pasta is a common choice, but remember, there are other foods containing carbohydrate that can effectively fuel your junior footballer for a big game. Some great higher carb, low fat options include:

Vegetarian pizza

  • Kat’s Puttanesa
  • Paprika chicken with quinoa taboulleh
  • Risotto
  • Home-made burgers with a lean meat, chicken, fish or veggie pattie and some salad
  • Homemade pizza – choose a premade thick base or Lebanese bread and spread your favourite sauce, add a little cooked chicken or ham (if desired) and a few veggie slices
  • Rice bowl topped with fish and veggies
  • Bake your family’s favourite potato (white or sweet – the bigger the better) and top with low-fat toppings such as cottage cheese and salsa or tuna and corn
  • Cooked quinoa topped with some stir-fried vegetables and egg, tofu or chicken, finished with a dressing of soy sauce and honey

Some dessert options:

You can offer a dessert option just to make sure that their muscle fuel stores are nice and stocked.

Some of our fav options are:

  • Ricotta filled baked pears
  • Apple and berry crumble
  • Low fat custard and fruit
  • Creamed rice and fruit
  • Fruit salad and ice-cream or Greek yoghurt

The timing of eating and the amount of food tolerated on game-day again will just depend on your child’s tolerance, nerves and time of the game.

Morning kick-off

For a morning game, aim to have a higher carbohydrate, lower protein and lower fat breakfast at least 2 hours before kick-off. Remember, a bigger meal is generally tolerated about 4 hours before starting time with a smaller meal/snack recommended about 2 hours before. Offer some fluid at this meal to allow time for it to absorb and your child to go to the toilet before kick-off. Carbohydrate containing liquids such as milk and juice can offer additional carbohydrate, which is handy if appetites are low.

Some breakfast options may include:

  • Cereal with fruit, milk and toast
  • Pancakes with banana and honey
  • Toast, crumpets or English muffins with vegemite, nut butter, honey or jam
  • Smoothie with milk, yoghurt, fruit and honey (liquids are good for nerves)
  • Flavoured milk and a banana
  • Fruit with Yoghurt or creamed rice
  • Canned spaghetti on toast
  • Canned baked beans on toast (this may be too high in fibre for sensitive tummy’s)

Afternoon kick-off

when we play in late in the afternoon or early evening have a bowl of weetbix with milk, banana and honey for breakfast, 2-3 sandwiches on grain bread with chicken, cheese, tomato and lettuce for lunch (about 4 hours before kick-off) and have a snack of toast with banana and honey about 2 hours before kick-off. I also have a drink bottle by my side all day but drink most of my fluid the day before a game and throughout the morning. I don’t want to rely on the afternoon to drink as I don’t want to be going to the toilet during the game! I find that this works for me and over the years have figured out the perfect timing of my eating.Nigel Boogaard

You can also use the training information as a guide for fuelling for an afternoon or evening game.


Home-made burgers with a lean meat, chicken, fish or veggie pattie

The same rules apply after a game as they do for training. Focus on the 3 R’s (refuel with carbohydrate, repair with protein and rehydrate with fluids and electrolytes).

For an afternoon or night game, take some inspiration from our time-saving meal ideas section. If the game is scheduled for the morning or middle of the day lunch may be the perfect recovery meal, which may include:

  • Sandwiches, wraps or rolls with a lean protein source such as cheese, hardboiled egg, salmon, chicken or beef and salad
  • Sushi
  • Home-made pizza on Lebanese bread with a simple tomato sauce base, some cooked chicken or ham, chopped vegetables and little sprinkle of cheese
  • Home-made burgers with a lean meat, chicken, fish or veggie pattie
  • Baked beans and cheese on toast
  • Baked potatoes with fillings such as baked beans, Mexican mince or ham and cheese
  • BBQ chicken with sweet potato chips and salad

Remember to encourage fluids at this recovery meal!

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