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What to eat the day after a game

Why is the day after a game so important?
Failing to recover properly the day after a game could hamper your ability to train properly in the days that follow. Quality nutrition and rest is especially vital when you have games in quick succession (e.g. a Saturday to Tuesday game schedule).  Whilst many professional players are aware of the importance of nutrition the day after a match, they often fail to understand just how important it really is.

What are the nutritional goals the day after a game?
Nutrition the day after a game is simply about replenishing your muscles with the energy you’ve used during a match. At the end of a game, almost 50% of your muscle fibres will be completely empty. Failure to replace those stores could mean you don’t have the right fuel source available to perform high-intensity running and sprinting actions in the coming days.  Additionally, the physical stress of a game can cause damage to muscle fibres meaning that they need to repair and rebuild in the days after the match.

How much carbohydrate do I need?
Similar to the day before a game, the day after a game also requires high carbohydrate intakes. Furthermore, because football can cause damage to our muscles and a damaged muscle may have a reduced ability to restore itself of energy, it is likely that you’ll need more carbohydrate than the day before a game.

It’s recommended that you consume 8-10 g/kg body mass. Using the example of a 75 kg player, this would equate to 600-750 grams. Even professional footballers in the Premier League make mistakes the day after a game and it has been reported that many only consume 4-5 g/kg of carbohydrate. Such low intake would not achieve maximum recovery and could compromise performance in the coming days. In the case where another match is scheduled to 2-3 days later, this would really affect your physical performance.

Simple approaches to MD-1 nutrition include increasing your carbohydrate intake through low fibre foods such as cereals, breads, rice, energy bars and carbohydrate drinks. Emphasising low fibre foods will be easier for digestion, reduce the risk of feeling bloated and full and also increase energy replenishment compared with higher fibre foods.

How much protein do I need the day after a game?
Given the need to repair and rebuild damaged muscle fibres, it is also wise to consume 2.5 g of protein per kg of bodyweight the day after a game. Like all days of the week, this protein intake should be spaced out throughout the day and emphasise high quality protein sources that are rich in the amino acid leucine. Remember to also consume 30-40 g prior to sleep to help build muscle ass.

 Key advice

  1. MD+1 refers to the day after the game where the nutritional goal is replenish your muscle glycogen stores whilst also repairing any damage to muscle fibres.
  2. Failing to recover well on MD+1 can significantly reduce your ability to train and play again in the coming days. This is especially important for those who players have another game to play 2-3 days later.
  3. Aim to consume a carbohydrate intake of 8-10 g/kg body mass through an array of carbohydrate rich foods and drinks.
  4. Aim to consume a protein intake of 2.5 g/kg to help promote the muscle repair process.


Dr James Morton
Written By

Dr James Morton

World Class Knowledge Director