It takes a lot of fuel in the tank to get a professional where he needs to be. If you travel for work, you already know how much it costs you to get the job done. It's not just your car or van that needs filling up, though. If you aren't claiming your tax refunds for the food you're eating at work, you're still missing out.

How fit does a footballer have to be?

Take a professional footballer, for example. That's a tough, demanding job and you've got to keep yourself in peak condition to excel at it. A typical high-level match probably involves between 5 and 7 miles of running over the full length of the game. That's mostly at a sprint, too – meaning you're pushing your heart to 85% or more of its maximum rate. Performing at that level means taking a long, hard look at how you're fuelling your body. That's all the time, too – not just on match days. Training, workouts and even just getting through a rest day all take energy.

How much do footballers eat?

At around 11-12 stone, an average-sized male footballer probably burns between 3,000 and 4,500 calories a day. It works out at about 25-30 calories per pounds of body weight. Top-tier performers might even need more to stay in match shape. Compare that with a British Army soldier – about the most physically challenging job there is -  and the demands are surprisingly similar. An Armed Forces diet typically runs to 3,750 calories a day at the low end. More intense duty can ramp that up as high as 6,550, though.

What do footballers eat when training?

Of course, when it comes to counting calories, there's a lot more to it than simply pushing them into your face by the fistful. Professional footballer diets are carefully weighed up to give the maximum benefit on the field. You're probably looking at something like:

  • 60%-70% complex carbohydrates (things like whole grains, fruits and vegetables)
  • 20%-25% “good” fats (nuts, fish, olive oil, etc.)
  • Around 10% protein (lean meats, shellfish, fat-free dairy and so on)

Counting the cost, not just the calories

You don't have to be a professional sportsman to need good food to get through the day. There are plenty of hard, physical jobs outside of the Beautiful Game. Whether you work offshore, on construction sites or in the Armed Forces, your health matters. Whatever you do for a living, and whatever you're eating to survive it, talk to RIFT about including meal costs in your tax refund claim. It's one of the easiest allowable expenses to miss, and it could be worth as much as £500 a year.