Learn about football diets by position.

Football Foods: Diet Breakdown by Position

Just as football teams are made up of a variety of positions, different diets are needed to fuel the performance of players on the field.

Jeff Lucchino, MS, RDN, CSSD, a sports dietitian at UPMC, provides a game plan for nutrition based on some football positions.

To make an appointment or learn more about our nutrition services, visit UPMCSportsMedicine.com.

Skill Positions: Running Backs, Defensive Backs, Wide Receivers, Quarterbacks

Skill position players should focus on carbohydrates more than other nutrients for performance. Their positions involve inconsistent sprinting, cutting, and other explosive movements that require carbohydrates to fuel performance.

RELATED: Common Football Injuries by Position

Linemen: Offensive Linemen, Defensive Linemen, Tight Ends, Linebackers

For line positions, players need to be large. But eating the wrong type of foods to build body mass can slow players down and cause health issues.

Linemen are hit on every single play, causing the high-level breakdown of muscle tissue. To help prevent this breakdown, these players should eat more protein.

Friday Night Fuel: Pre-Game Meal Tips

In football, pre-game meals are all about timing. A pre-game meal should take place three to five hours before kickoff. Teams that eat too early (seven hours before kickoff) or too late (one to two hours before kickoff) can negatively impact their performance. When it comes to the nutritional elements of the pre-game meal, it must be taken into consideration that football is a constant, high-energy sport.

Playing football, a constant high-energy sport, requires a high-calorie pre-game meal that includes:

Recommended Pre-Game Meal

  • Carbohydrates: Choose a low-calorie pasta and pair it with alfredo sauce and bread as a side
  • Protein: Grilled chicken or meatballs made with lean meat (package labeled 90 percent or leaner)
  • Produce: A side salad made with either lettuce or spinach, topped with cucumbers, tomatoes, and an oil-based dressing. Want something sweeter? Choose a fruit salad that incorporates berries, kiwi, mango, and pineapple
  • Hydration: Water, sports drinks, 100 percent apple juice, or a fruit smoothie

To make an appointment or learn more about our nutrition services, visit UPMCSportsMedicine.com.

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