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Elina Gregoriou | Nutrition

6.Dietary recommendations for young footballplayers

Nutrition »

The goal of sports nutrition is mainly to maximize simultaneously the athletic performance, health and wellness of athletes.

During childhood and adolescence it is important to follow the proper dietary recommendations without affecting growth and maturation.

Nutrition »

Daily energy requirements (calories):

Depend on: Age, gender, body weight & level of physical activity.

6.Dietary recommendations for young footballplayers

Nutrition »

Macronutrients (Carbohydrates, proteins & fats):

Carbohydrates (Carbs):

  • Main source of energy for the body, muscles and brain.
  • General recommendation: 45% -65% of daily energy intake.
  • Recommendation for athletes: 3-10gr/kg of Body Weight/day (nearly nonexistent for young athletes).
  • Low carbs diet: Early fatigue and muscle breakdown to provide energy (faster fatigue in young athletes due to reduced glycogen stores).
  • Carbs during exercise (> 60mins): Important for maintain blood glucose.
  • Carbs immediately after exercise (30-60mins): Important for improve muscle glycogen storage.

Good sources of Carbs:

Pasta, rice, bread, cereals, quinoa, oats, legumes, fruits, vegetables and starchy vegetables (such as corn, zucchini, sweet potatoes, potatoes).

Proteins (Pro):

  • Help for muscle glycogen recovery and muscle tissue synthesis.
  • General recommendation: 34gr/d (9-13 years), 46gr/d (girls 14-18 years), 52gr/d (boys 14-18 years).
  • Recommendation for athletes: 1.2-2.0gr/kg BW/d (nearly nonexistent for young athletes).
  • Pro & Carbs after exercise: Help to prevent the further muscle breakdown and activate the muscle repair (∽20-30gr of protein).

Good sources of Pro:

Skinless poultry (chicken, turkey), lean meat (beef, pork), fish and seafood, low-fat milk and dairy products, eggs, legumes, soy products and unsalted nuts/seeds.


  • Major fuel source for low and moderate intensity exercise.
  • Important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), production of cholesterol and sex hormones and for immune function (prevent fatigue and illness).
  • General recommendation and recommendation for athletes: 20%-30% of daily energy intake, of which <10% from saturated fat sources (nearly nonexistent for young athletes).

Good sources of Fats:

Olive oil, olives, avocados, unsalted nuts and their butters, seeds and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel).

Sources of Saturated fats:

Fried and very fatty foods, fast-foods, butter, creams, whole milk and dairy products and fatty meats (bacon, sausages, salami).

6.Dietary recommendations for young footballplayers

Nutrition »

Micronutrients (vitamins, trace elements, minerals):

Although there are many vitamins and minerals required for good health, particular attention should be devoted to ensuring that young athletes consume proper amounts of calcium, vitamin D and iron.

Calcium - Ca (1):

  • Important for bone health, normal enzyme activity and muscle contraction
  • Daily recommended intake (DRI) for athletes 4-8 years: 1000mg/d
  • DRI for athletes 9-18 years: 1300mg/d

Vitamin D – VitD (2):

  • Necessary for bone health and involve the absorption and regulation of Ca.
  • DRI for athletes 4-18 years: 600 ΙU/d (depends on geographical location & race).

Iron - Fe (3):

  • Important for oxygen delivery to body tissues.
  • Increased needs during adolescence: Rapid growth and increase in blood volume and lean muscle mass.
  • DRI for athletes 9-13 years: 8 mg/d
  • DRI for athletes 14-18 years: Boys 11 mg/d, Girls 15 mg/d (due to menstruation).
6.Dietary recommendations for young footballplayers