Sports Performance Dietitian
AIS-AFL Academy
Sydney Swans Football Club

The Role of Sports Nutrition in AFL Football Includes:
• Optimising training sessions
• Preparation for game day
• Maximising game day performance – concentration, skill level, endurance, speed, power, strength
• Optimising body composition – Decrease body fat levels (where necessary), Increase muscle mass
• Enhance recovery after exercise sessions
• Maintain hydration
• Protect immune system function

Based on current research – The main nutrition Guidelines for OPTIMAL Football Performance are:
• Base most meals and snacks on carbohydrate food
• Consume good quality protein foods – spread throughout the day
• Limit fat intake
• Eat a variety of foods for vitamins and minerals
• Use fluids during and around exercise so that sweat losses are replaced.

Base Meals & Snacks on Carbohydrates:

A footballer’s most precious fuel is glycogen (stored carbohydrate), as it is the key to endurance. The emptying of glycogen stores is a major limiting factor in football performance. When glycogen stores are used up, a footballer becomes exhausted and his performance falters. Not eating enough carbohydrates will also result in compromised muscle growth. Foods rich in carbohydrate are the preferred source of energy for footballers. These foods should be consumed at all meals and snacks: bread, rice, pasta, noodles, potato, sweet potato, corn, fruit, milk, yoghurt. Sugary carbohydrate-based foods such as honey, jam, confectionary and soft drink provide energy, but little other nutrients. They are useful for athletes with high carbohydrate/energy needs.


Football players have higher protein requirements than less active individuals. Protein is used to build and repair muscle tissue. It is important that athletes include some good food sources of protein at each main meal. Protein has been shown to be best used by our body if it is spread evenly throughout the day. Good sources of animal proteins include: lean red and white meats, poultry, fish, dairy product and eggs. Plant proteins are called incomplete proteins and do not work as effectively as the animal proteins in building and repairing lean muscle mass. These include: cereals, legumes, lentils, nuts and seeds.


Fat is an energy source. However, it supplies twice the kilojoules as an equivalent amount of carbohydrate and protein, and is not as efficient as carbohydrate as an energy source. All football players should avoid excess fat in their diet. While carbohydrate stores can be easily depleted, we will never run out of fat. There is no need to cut out groups of foods from an athlete’s diet to reduce the fat content. It is just a matter of knowing what the fat content is and how to prepare these foods to minimise it: eg: Meat: Lean red meat, with all of the visible fat removed is no higher in kilojoules than chicken or turkey (no skin) or fish. It is also a good source of protein and iron.

Dairy Products

Football players need dairy products as a source of calcium. Choose reduced fat or low-fat dairy products.

Fatty Foods

Fat is a flavour enhancer, so it is hidden in many processed foods, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, chips etc. Keeping these foods as an occasional treat rather than a regular food choice is important. A balanced diet for footballers does not exclude all fat. Small amounts of fat should still be provided in the diet. Mono-unsaturated varieties are the best choices eg: canola or olive oil varieties. Omega 3 fats are also important to include in a football player’s eating plan as they act as an anti-in amatory agent. Cold-water fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, mullet, mackerel) and pecans and walnuts contain good amounts of omega 3 fats.


Snack foods are an essential part of a football player’s daily eating plan. They help to top up energy stores before training sessions
or refuel afterwards. Choosing appropriate snacks will ensure that your energy levels remain high and that adequate muscle repair and growth occurs between sessions.
Good snack choices are high in carbohydrates and other nutrients and low in fat,
eg: fruit (fresh, tinned or dried)
fruit loaf/raisin toast/fruit buns/fruit scrolls
cereal bars
creamed rice
baked beans/spaghetti
low fat smoothies/milk shakes yoghurt


It is important that all footballers aim to avoid dehydration as even small amounts of dehydration impact on performance. Concentration, skill level, endurance and speed are all reduced if dehydration occurs before or during training or a game. Drinking fluids such as water, cordial, sports drink and juice throughout the day is necessary to prevent starting training or a game dehydrated. Once exercise has begun a regular intake of fluid and electrolytes (eg sports drink) is advised to replace sweat losses and aid in maintaining performance.


The nutrition strategies discussed in this article provide a basis for building an appropriate nutrition plan for AFL performance. More individualised advice is warranted for all players looking to maximise their performance and recovery to ensure personal goals are met.

What is Rising Stars AFL Football Academy Philosophy?

The Philosophy gives Rising Stars the direction and a pathway, which brings consistency and reduces the uncertainty of coaches and players on setting goals so they all are striving in the same direction. It also allows coaches to review and consolidate their philosophy over their coaching journey.

The essence of Rising Stars AFL Football Coaching Academy philosophy is based on long term development of athletes in their technique, tactics, mental approach (motivation), fitness, game sense (footy smarts), leadership, feedback and satisfaction in learning new skills or enhance existing skills, as well as promoting fun and friendship with a balanced lifestyle.

Rising Stars AFL Football Academy Program is a holistic junior football development program designed to help you improve your skill level in football and in other parts of your life.

Rising Stars Team – Get the Winning Edge.

Michael Barton – State Under 12’s Coach 2017.

Sam Cavicchio – State Under 12’s A/Coach 2017.

Thomas Moscarda – State Under 15’s A/Coach 2017.

Oliver Beath – State Under 15’s Girls AFL Coach 2017.

Darren Rumble – State Under 18’s A/Coach 2017.

WEST COAST EAGLES PLAYERS who attend RISING STARS – Scott Lycett (Rising Star Ambassador), Elliot Yeo and Liam Duggan

As we wind down 2017, we would also like to remind everyone that we will be kick starting 2017/2018 with two footy day camps being held in Busselton and Metropolitan. Head to our home page to find out more.

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