Betfred Sport

How much does diet affect a footballer's performance?

Do you ever have a bad game for no apparent reason? You eat all the right food, avoid booze and junk and yet you’re still bloated and lethargic? Help is at hand.

These days, only a buffoon would turn up to play with a hangover from drink or a heavy meal. Anyone who takes their game seriously will want to maximize their performance by eating the right foods. Pasta seems to be the best form of slow burn high energy fuel available.

So why is it that despite all your training and fastidiousness, you still feel like you’re wearing a diving suit when you need to raise your game?

It could be that you are intolerant to certain foods. In some people, cow’s milk invokes a reaction from the body’s immune system. Others have a reaction to yeast.

I am affected by grapes and juniper berries. In fact, there are too many types of food to list here, but the bottom line is that the fuel you take in could be slowing you down. You won’t have the stomach for a battle at work or on the pitch while your body wages its own internal war.

“Food intolerance is often hard to detect as symptoms can be so varied,” says Matt Lovell, sports nutritionist to Olympic athletes and rugby internationals. 


If you suffer from fatigue, aches, pains, asthma and breathing problems, it could be that one of your favourite foods is slowly poisoning you. A common complaint is irritable bowel syndrome, which is pretty off-putting.

Allergies are not fatal but they are just bad enough to drag you down. Like a niggling internal injury that nobody can see, your teammates will not know that. They will just assume you are useless or unfit and they won’t give you the ball. Then the manager will leave you out the team. All because you had three Weetabix this morning.

Albert Camus once said that that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Stupid man, I can see why they stuck him in goal now. I bet he never had to play on a cold Sunday morning, as his immune system fights a marmite sandwich. (He stole that line from Nietzsche anyway).

Unlike Camus, many football clubs are taking a more enlightened approach now. Tottenham’s head of sports science, Dr Sam Erith, is a big fan.

“Matt’s expert knowledge helped push us forward with our nutritional support for the team,” says Erith.

You can’t give 110 per cent when you’re feeling half-dead. It’s not rocket science and it’s pretty easy to sort it out.

Find out more on Food Intolerance at

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By Nick Booth

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