What To Eat Before a Soccer Game (By the Hour)

What To Eat Before a Soccer Game (By the Hour)

Last updated on April 10th, 2023 at 02:03 pm

If you want to give yourself a competitive edge, fueling your body with the proper nutrients is important. But, there’s many foods that can also slow you down. So, what should you eat before a soccer game?

This guide will help you understand what foods you should put in your body…and when.

Check out our list of pre-game meals that will help improve your energy and stamina on the field.

Why Is Eating Healthy Important?

Eating before a soccer match is essential in order to have the maximum energy and endurance necessary to perform at one’s best level.

Fueling up on the right foods helps you boost your performance on the field, whether you are playing a long tournament or having a normal training session.

Eating properly before any sport can increase strength, stamina, and alertness while reducing fatigue.

By eating meals high in carbohydrates and other energy sources like fruits and nuts, athletes can keep themselves energized for hours, so they can play their ceiling and stay ahead of their competitors.

“Good nutrition is at the core of my success” – Cristiano Ronaldo (more soccer quotes)

Which Foods Are Carbohydrate-Rich?

You should eat lots of complex carbohydrates before your game to give you the energy you need.

It can be hard to figure out where all of these carbs are coming from. Although whole-grain bread is often available and a practical alternative, it shouldn’t be your only choice.

Here are some meals high in complex carbohydrates:

  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Chickpeas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Brown rice
  • Black beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Oranges

The Best Foods to Eat Three Hours Before a Soccer Match

You should have your main pre-game meal around three hours before a soccer match.

The ideal number of calories you should consume during this meal is somewhere between 300 and 500.

The pregame food should be high in carbs, low in fat, low in fiber and high in protein. An example would be grilled chicken breast served with rice and sautéed veggies. YUM!

Or a quick alternative would be a rice cake with a small amount of peanut butter spread on it.

The Best Foods to Eat Two Hours Before a Soccer Match

You may only have time to have your pre-game meal two hours before kickoff. There is a possibility that your digesting time may be shortened in this situation.

It is still recommended that you eat a sufficient amount of carbs, along with some protein and fiber.

In this case, you may need to cut down on your portions just a bit. Make sure you’re eating something that you can digest rapidly.

A banana with some oatmeal is a good choice for a meal to consume two hours prior to the game.

The Best Foods to Eat One Hour Before a Soccer Match

You shouldn’t eat a big meal the hour before kickoff. One hour before a soccer match might be a good time for a snack, however.

Pick a carb-rich food that will help you refuel without making you feel sluggish.

Here are a few ideas for pregame snacks that you may enjoy an hour before your game:

  • Snack bars made of various kinds of cereal or mixed nuts
  • Fruits – blueberries, banana, oranges
  • A yogurt (unless you’re lactose intolerant)
  • Jelly on toast
  • Pretzels

What Should a Soccer Player Avoid Eating Before a Match?

Athletes need to know what to eat before practice as well as what not to eat on the day of the match.

Prior to a game, athletes should avoid the following nutritional groups:

The high-fat, deep-fried meals

Foods high in fat are to blame for the digestive issues that players experience. They may include bloating in the stomach, indigestion, sleepiness, and a lack of focus when playing. These types of foods include french fries, pizza, fried chicken and chips.

Spicy Foods

Spicy foods can irritate the stomach lining, leading to cramps, especially during physical activity.

Stimulants or carbonated beverages

Ready-to-eat meals, coffee, energy drinks and carbonated beverages can be harmful to anyone’s health no matter if you’re playing a sport or not.

For young athletes, they reduce physical fitness and brain fog, limiting players’ capacity to handle and control the ball.


We are big proponents of eating healthy everyday.

By eating healthier foods and drinks, your body is able to replenish itself and maximize it’s muscle fibers. Additionally, a healthier lifestyle leads to more mental clarity. The combination of a strong body and mind can do wonders for soccer players. The rigorous competition and endless amount of running can become an advantage to players who make it a lifestyle.

The foods we discussed are a great start. We recommend maintaining the habit before games and training sessions but also throughout the week. Leave one day to cheat a bit but keep in mind the bigger picture…longevity!

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created soccernovo.com to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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