Proper nutrition is an important part of being a good footballer and supplements can help you train, play and recover better.

You should always be aware that they are just that: supplements. They supplement a healthy, balanced diet; they don’t replace it. Indeed, you can find the nutrients in the supplements listed below in normal foods.

However, it’s not always possible to have the right diet. That’s why it’s useful to be able to turn to supplements to give you the extra help that you might need.

These five supplements can help you achieve your training, playing and recovery goals:

  • Caffeine can help improve physical strength and in-game performance, in particular sprinting, jumping and general agility. You can find it a range of foods and drinks, including tea, coffee, cola and chocolate, as well as energy drinks. It’s important not to overdo it, however, as too much caffeine can be detrimental to performance (the pre-match three-cans-of-Red-Bull routine of England striker Jamie Vardy is probably best left to Jamie Vardy).
  • Protein shakes are a popular supplement among footballers because protein helps repair and grow your muscles after training and playing. You can stock up on protein at meal times (it’s in eggs, milk, yoghurt, etc.) but the benefits can be significantly reduced by the exertion of a training session or match. That’s why it can be good to grab a protein shake after exercising – it helps you to get the protein you need without having to eat huge amounts.
  • Making sure that your vitamin D levels are topped up, especially in winter when the sun is at its shyest, can help you stay on top of your game, in particular in terms of sprinting and jumping. It helps strengthen your immune system, keep your bones strong and improve cognition. You can find vitamin D in foods such as fish, eggs and fortified cereals. Depending on your diet, a supplement, such as vitamin D drops, is a good way of always getting what you need.
  • Creatine is an organic acid that occurs naturally in your body. Making sure you have a good level of creatine can improve performance under strain, which is particularly good for footballers in terms of the in-game stop-sprint fitness that you need. It can also help build muscle mass and strength. You can find creatine in meats, eggs and fish, but if these foods don’t fit into your diet or you feel that you need to boost your levels, you can take a supplement.
  • Fish oils have lots of health benefits that are good for footballers. They include heart and joint health, weight management, energy production and increased brain function. The essential fatty oils will help in-game performance and post-match recovery (they can help reduce soreness). Naturally, fish is a good source of fish oil and eating more will boost your levels. But if filling the fridge with fish isn’t for you, you can find fish oil supplements at your local wholefoods or health store.

If having a supplement-taking regime isn’t for you, a quick and simple way to keep your body enriched with the nutrients it needs to perform on the pitch is to take a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement every day.

And remember, everyone is different. So when it comes to supplements, you should always listen to your body and how it responds to what you are taking. Do this and you’ll soon work out the nutritional planning you need to be the best footballer you can be.