Nutritional Habits and Knowledge in Youth Academy Soccer

  • Marcelina Majba

Student thesis: Master's Thesis



Soccer is a high-intensity, intermittent team sport which typically includes two 45 minutes halves separated by a 15-minute break. There is limited data on the nutritional intake of elite British fulltime youth soccer players. The current literature in this area generally suggests that youth players are not meeting energy requirements (albeit from estimated values), which generally appears to be a result of inadequate carbohydrate intake (Russell and Pennock, 2011; Briggs et al., 2015; Naughton et al., 2016).

Aims of study

One aim of this research was to assess the nutritional knowledge of youth soccer players from an English Championship Academy. Furthermore, another aim was to assess their energy, macronutrient and micronutrient intake and assess if there were changes in this intake on match, training, and rest days. Moreover, another aim was to assess if there is a correlation between nutritional knowledge and nutritional intake in this group of players.

Nutritional Knowledge Questionnaire

Thirty-nine male soccer players (age 17.5 ± 0.7 years; height 1.82 ± 0.06 m; body mass 74.14 ± 9.67 kg) from an English Championship Academy participated in the study after receiving verbal and written information and providing informed consent. In all Nutritional knowledge questionnaire sections, average scores were around 50% (General Nutrition = 55%, Sport Nutrition = 48%, Protein = 55%; ALL = 53.1%). This demonstrates that there is a lack of nutritional knowledge and further education is required.

Food Diaries

Nineteen of the thirty-nine players were recruited to participate in the study after receiving verbal and written information and providing informed consent. On the return of the food diaries only eight were suitable for analysis due to missing data. The overall mean energy intake resulting from the food diaries analysis was 2655.7 ± 804.4 kcal/day. Whilst there was no significant difference between the types of day (P = 0.594), a hierarchical order of match day > training day > rest day was observed. Furthermore, no statistically significant correlation between energy intake and nutritional knowledge was found (r = -0.468, P = 0.243).
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorRobert Naughton (Main Supervisor)

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