10 Unhealthy Foods Soccer Players Should Avoid

It’s a misconception that certain foods are unequivocally “forbidden” and must be banned from our lives forever.

Rather, the key to a healthy and nutritious diet lies in balance and moderation. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t enjoy that burger or indulge in a slice of cake from time to time.

The key is to include lots of nutrient-rich and healthy foods into your diet, while still allowing yourself the occasional treat.

Savor that guilty pleasure and relish in the knowledge that it’s all about balance, not deprivation.

As a soccer player, your body is your most potent weapon, and it deserves nothing but the utmost care.

One of the critical aspects of taking care of your body is nourishing it with the right foods. While many edibles can improve your performance, some can act like a secret agent and sabotage your well-being and performance.

Inflammation is a significant adversary that can emerge from consuming the wrong types of foods. It can blunt your edge, make you prone to injuries, and even unlock the gates to chronic illnesses.

Here are ten inflammatory foods that you should avoid at all costs, particularly during your active season.

Processed Meat

10 Inflammatory Foods Soccer Players Should Avoid

It’s no secret that cured, smoked, and dried meats like sausage, bacon, and cold cuts are notorious for their links to cancer.

We’re not talking about a minor increase in risk either. This stuff is seriously dangerous.

And it’s not just the processed meats that you need to watch out for. Conventionally-raised meat, like your average beef and pork, is pumped full of all sorts of inflammatory additives like hormones and antibiotics.

As a health-conscious individual, it’s important to be mindful of the food choices we make. While meat can be a satisfying source of protein, certain additives can pose a threat to our well-being.

Nitrates and nitrites, commonly found in processed meats like bacon and sausage, have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health issues.

Therefore, it’s wise to seek out locally-sourced options that are free from these harmful additives.

Grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken are also better options, as they are higher in vital nutrients and healthier fats.

Fried Foods

Although fried foods are popular edibles at fast-food restaurants, they are not the ideal source of nutrition for athletes, especially soccer players.

When not cooked properly, fried foods can contain high levels of trans fats that can lead to inflammation and other health issues.

Trans fats are detrimental to the body because they increase the levels of bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol.

This process can lead to inflammation in the body, causing damage to organs and tissues, increasing the risk of heart disease and other health issues.

A wiser option for soccer players would be to consume grilled chicken and vegetables.

Grilled chicken provides protein that can help build and repair muscles while vegetables supply essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Another alternative to fried chicken nuggets and fries is homemade baked chicken tenders, which are healthier and more nutritious.


Alcohol consumption can really impact a soccer player’s health and performance. This is because alcohol can impair the immune system, leading to a weakened body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases.

Also, alcohol can cause a leaky gut, which is a condition where the intestinal lining becomes more permeable, allowing bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream.

This can lead to a flow of health issues, including inflammation and injuries

Inflammatory markers, which are biomarkers indicating inflammation in the body, can also increase due to alcohol consumption.

While moderate alcohol consumption, such as a glass of red wine, may have some health benefits, players should avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

Instead, they should opt for non-alcoholic beverages such as water, coconut water, or natural fruit juices to maintain hydration and support their body’s natural defenses.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are commonly used in low-fat, diet, and sports products as a sugar substitute.

However, these sweeteners can have detrimental effects on the gut microbiome and can cause hormonal responses similar to those caused by sugar.

Research has shown that artificial sweeteners such as sucralose can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and lead to an increased risk of metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

To avoid the negative effects of artificial sweeteners, it’s important to read labels and avoid products that contain sucralose.

Many sports drinks and bars contain this common ingredient, which can hinder players’ performance and health.

Instead, soccer players should choose natural sweeteners such as stevia, honey, or maple syrup, which are less likely to disrupt gut health and cause hormonal imbalances.

By making this simple dietary shift, footballers can improve their gut health, minimize the risk of chronic diseases, and enhance their athletic performance.

Inflammatory Oils

It’s important to understand that not all fats are created equal. In particular, vegetable and canola oils are considered inflammatory and should be replaced with healthier options.

These oils contain healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Consuming too much of the omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable and canola oils can lead to increased inflammation in the body, which can contribute to a range of chronic diseases.

Soccer players are advised to switch to healthier oils, such as avocado, olive, and coconut oils, this can reap the benefits of healthy fats and reduce their risk of inflammation and chronic disease.

Not only do these oils have anti-inflammatory properties, but they also contain important vitamins and minerals that are essential for health and wellbeing


Gluten, a protein found in many grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, can cause gastrointestinal distress and trigger inflammation in the body, even in people without gluten sensitivity.

As such, players should go for gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and wild-caught fish, which provide nutrition without causing inflammatory responses.

Many foods that contain gluten, such as processed snacks, baked goods, and cereals, are often heavily processed and packaged in boxes or bags.

These foods are often high in sugar and unhealthy fats and lack essential nutrients that soccer players need to perform at their best.

By choosing whole, gluten-free foods, players can improve their health and athletic performance.

Not only do these foods provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and inflammation.

Conventional Dairy

Many conventional dairy products come from cows that are not organic, grass-fed, or pasture-raised. These cows produce milk that contains two types of protein: whey and casein.

However, conventional casein can be inflammatory to the gut and lead to digestive issues.

This is because conventional dairy cows are often given antibiotics, hormones, and a diet of processed grains that can affect the quality of their milk and produce inflammatory compounds.

To avoid these issues, it’s best to choose organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised dairy products. These products come from cows that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics and have had access to a natural diet of grass and other vegetation.

As a result, their milk contains healthier fats and proteins that can be beneficial for gut health and general wellness.

Genetically Modified Foods

More research is needed on the impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the body, but it’s best to exercise caution and avoid them if possible.

In particular, GMO soy and corn are two common culprits that athletes should be mindful of.

While there is still much debate over the potential health risks of GMOs, some studies suggest that they can have negative impacts on the environment and human health.

For instance, GMO soy and corn are often grown with heavy pesticide use, which can harm soil quality, wildlife, and even human health.

There is evidence that GMO soy may have hormonal effects on the body, which could interfere with a player’s performance and general health.

Soccer players should consider avoiding GMO soy and corn by opting for non-GMO alternatives such as organic produce, grass-fed meats, and sustainably sourced seafood.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

(HFCS) is a highly processed sugar commonly found in sodas, candy, some juices, and ice cream.

However, it’s important to note that HFCS is more than just a regular sugar. It has a high concentration of fructose, which has been linked to various health issues.

Studies have shown that consuming HFCS can lead to inflammation in the body, which is associated with conditions such as arthritis and weight gain.

To avoid HFCS, players should consider reducing their consumption of processed foods and eating whole, unprocessed foods instead.

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide players with the nutrients and energy they need to perform at their best.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates are foods that have undergone processing and lost most of their essential nutrients and fiber. These include pasta, cereal, crackers, and white bread.

Consuming refined carbs can lead to an unhealthy spike in blood sugar, which is often followed by a crash in energy levels. Also, they can cause inflammation in the body, leading to chronic diseases.

To avoid the negative effects of refined carbs, it is recommended to go for whole-grain options such as quinoa, brown rice, and whole-grain bread.

These options contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for maintaining a healthy body.

Whole-grain foods can also help sustain energy levels throughout the day, promoting better physical performance and mental focus.

Drinks To Avoid As A Soccer Player

As a soccer player, your diet is really important to your performance on the field.

While most of us tend to focus on food, we often forget about the impact drinks can have on our game.

Here are a few drinks that you should avoid as a soccer player:

Soda: Soft drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other carbonated beverages are loaded with sugar, which can cause insulin spikes, energy crashes, and dehydration.

Diet soda: Although it may sound like a healthier option, diet soda is no better. It is loaded with artificial sweeteners, which can confuse your body’s metabolic processes and increase your cravings for sugar.

Energy drinks: While energy drinks may give you a quick burst of energy, they are often loaded with caffeine, sugar, and other additives that can lead to dehydration and crashes later on.

Coffee: Although coffee can be a great pick-me-up in the morning, it can also cause dehydration and may disrupt your sleep patterns, which can impact your performance on the field.

To stay hydrated and perform your best on the soccer field, it’s best to stick with water and natural, unsweetened beverages like herbal tea or coconut water.


Can a soccer player eat pizza?

Pizza can be a suitable treats for soccer players in moderation, and certain recipes can even provide essential nutrients and veggies.

However, it’s normally classified as unhealthy due to its high calorie, sodium, and carbohydrate content, so it’s best to avoid it as a regular part of the diet.

Is bread bad for soccer players?

Bread is not inherently bad for soccer players or any athletes, as it can provide a source of carbohydrates, which are vital for fueling the body during physical activity.

However, the type and amount of bread consumed can affect an athlete’s performance.

White bread, which is made from refined grains, is generally less nutritious than whole-grain bread, which contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Consuming too much-refined bread, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and subsequent crashes, may lead to fatigue and decreased performance on the soccer field.

Can a soccer player eat fries?

Fried food, including fries, lacks essential nutrients and is not recommended for soccer players. Overconsumption can lead to weight gain, obesity, and heart disease.

While occasional indulgence won’t hurt, a clean diet is better.

Final Whistle- Food Players Should Avoid

The article echoes a recurring warning that cannot be ignored: most of the food mentioned is packaged and heavily processed.

As I have stressed, if you want to feel and perform your best, your diet should mostly consist of whole and organic foods, and minimize processed foods.

While it may take some extra time to prepare these meals, the benefits to your health are undeniable.

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