Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

Serving the Ideal Diet for Training, Competition, and Recovery

Volleyball is an explosive and power-driven sport. To excel in serving, spiking, blocking, digging, and diving, athletes require energy, primarily in the form of anaerobic muscle energy. Fueling long rallies and training sessions involves a combination of anaerobic glycolysis and aerobic metabolism, which relies on a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition in Volleyball

To achieve peak performance in volleyball, nutrition plays a crucial role. Pre-game fuel, inter-match replenishment, and consistent glycogen building are essential factors in keeping athletes at their best. Volleyball players need to stay fed and hydrated 24/7 to keep the ball airborne. The estimated calorie expenditure per minute for noncompetitive and competitive play can be found in Table 1.

Optimal Nutrition for Volleyball

When it comes to food energy in volleyball, there are no unique differences compared to other power team sports. A high carbohydrate diet, accounting for approximately 50-65% of total calories, fuels both anaerobic and aerobic energy needs. Fruits, veggies, whole grain cereals, breads, pastas, and low-fat dairy are excellent sources of high-quality carbohydrates.

Protein, constituting 10-25% of daily calorie intake, provides essential power and strength for muscle repair. Lean meats, chicken, turkey, fish, nonfat cheeses, dairy products, egg whites, protein-fortified smoothies, and trail mixes are recommended to meet daily protein needs.

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For managing ideal competitive weights, less than 30% of calories should come from healthy fats. Sources such as nuts, nut butters, fish oils, avocado, soy, and vegetable oil-based salad dressings are excellent options.

The Role of Electrolytes and Antioxidants

In addition to carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, special attention should be given to mineral-rich carbohydrate choices to manage electrolyte losses caused by sweating. Consumption of sodium, potassium, and calcium-rich foods and fluids such as sport drinks, lightly salted foods, low-fat dairy, and iron-rich foods can help maintain energy utilization, muscle contraction efficiency, and prevent electrolyte imbalances.

Antioxidants, like vitamins E and C found in fruits and nuts, contribute to muscle repair and recovery in competitive athletes.

Hydration is Key

Fluid intake is critical in volleyball nutrition. During practice, a volleyball player may lose up to one or more pounds of fluid, equivalent to 16 oz. To prevent dehydration, athletes should consume a minimum of two cups of fluid before playing, 4-6 oz of fluid every 15 minutes of play, and an additional two cups of fluid after practice. Athletes training and residing in warmer climates need to ensure round-the-clock hydration to maintain optimal performance.

Taking Volleyball Nutrition on the Road

For athletes competing away from home, ensuring proper nutrition can be a challenge. It is recommended for players to carry a stash of nutritious food items such as sport or breakfast bars, shakes, sport drinks, crackers, trail mix, healthy soups, small cereal boxes, fresh fruit, and mini bagels. Pre-game meals should be light in fat, moderate in protein, and carbohydrate-based to provide the necessary fuel. Popular options include pasta with grilled chicken or shrimp, lean meat with a baked potato, or a lean meat sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

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A Day in the Food Life for Volleyball Players

To give you an idea of what a volleyball player’s daily food intake may consist of, here’s a sample meal plan:


  • Citrus fruit or juice or a cup of strawberries or blueberries
  • Egg white omelet with green veggies, tomato, and nonfat cheese
  • A small bowl of oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, or a slice of whole-grain bread
  • 2 tsp of nut butter
  • Water

AM Snack:

  • Low-fat breakfast bar or sport bar
  • Water or sugar-free beverage


  • Turkey wrap or sandwich with low-fat, whole-wheat tortilla or bread
  • 3-4 oz of turkey
  • Lettuce and tomato
  • 2 tsp of mayo
  • A small bag of baked chips
  • 1 apple or pear
  • Water or sugar-free beverage

PM Snack:

  • Fresh fruit smoothie with low-fat yogurt
  • Or low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of granola
  • Water or sugar-free beverage


  • Grilled chicken salad with a whole-grain roll
  • Or fresh grilled fish with veggies and a baked potato
  • Or Sushi with soup and salad
  • Or pasta with veggies and light red sauce
  • Water or sugar-free beverage

Evening Snack:

  • Frozen low-fat yogurt with a topping of fresh fruit
  • Or air-blown popcorn with a sprinkle of parmesan


Q: What should volleyball players eat before a game?
A: Pre-game meals should be light in fat, moderate in protein, and carbohydrate-based. Options such as pasta with grilled chicken or shrimp, lean meat with a baked potato, or a lean meat sandwich on whole-wheat bread are ideal choices.

Q: Why is hydration important in volleyball?
A: Fluid intake is crucial in volleyball as athletes can lose a significant amount of fluid through sweat. Proper hydration helps maintain optimal performance, prevents dehydration, and minimizes the cumulative effects of fluid loss during training and games.

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Q: What are some mineral-rich foods that volleyball players should consider?
A: Volleyball players should focus on consuming sodium, potassium, and calcium-rich foods to manage electrolyte losses. This includes lightly salted foods, sport drinks, low-fat dairy, iron-rich foods, and fruits and nuts for antioxidant support.


Proper nutrition is a vital component of volleyball training, competition, and recovery. A well-balanced diet, rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, ensures athletes have the energy and strength needed to excel on the court. Additionally, electrolyte management, hydration, and adequate rest are essential for optimal performance. By following a nutritious meal plan and prioritizing their overall well-being, volleyball players can maximize their potential and reach their goals. For more information and resources, visit Alpinetgheep.com.