Harry Kane on how eating healthily helped transform his career
England captain Harry Kane provides examples of what footballers eat as part of our new purpose-led programme The Greater Game
Learn more about The Greater Game
Football has the potential to bring about significant societal change and that is why the FA has launched 'The Greater Game', a new purpose-led programme that aims to use the beautiful game as a vehicle to boost the health and wellbeing of young people across the nation, inspiring them to make at least one healthier action per week.
The programme has four pillars of: Move, Think, Sleep and Eat, all of which help create holistic health and wellbeing.
Launched at a time when less than half of 10-16-year-olds regularly exercise, and one in five children leave primary school classified as obese, this initiative has never been more critical.
The Greater Game is targeted at young people aged 12-16 and those who have potential influence over their behaviour, including parents, coaches, teachers and local communities.
The programme aspires to break unhelpful social norms and tackle the challenges of modern life that make it harder for young people to lead healthier, happier lives. This purpose-led programme is more than a temporary initiative; it's a long-term mission. With the immense power and reach of football, and through collaborations with existing and new partners, The Greater Game aims to inspire real, lasting change.
Join us as we sit down with England captain Harry Kane to discuss the crucial role eating healthily has on his career and life in general.
The Greater Game
Taking one small healthier action per week, we can make lasting change
One of the things we're hoping to achieve with The Greater Game programme is promoting healthy living and eating. Can you give us an insight into what goes into a footballer's diet? What sort of nutritional advice are you receiving and are there individuals within the club and international camps providing this advice?
Kane: “We have a couple of nutritionists at the club level and we also have one here with England.
“Nutrition has become a significant part of sport, particularly football. Considering the number of games we play, recovery is crucial, and food plays a big role in that - ensuring we get the right nutrients at the right time.
“It's something that's helped me over the last six or seven years to become the player I am now and we're fortunate we receive this help at the club and international level.”
Do you cook at home or do you bring in a chef? How does it work for you and your family?
Kane: “I work with a chef called Dan Sargeant, who is also a nutritionist as well and focuses on performance and health. We've been working together for around eight or nine years.
“We continually strive for little bits to improve here and there, and I've seen significant changes and improvements since we started.
“He prepares the food, which we then cook. He’s been great and in football, it's the little details that can help you become the best you can be. Food is definitely one of those.”
What sort of foods do you typically eat for breakfast? What do you eat ahead of training or matches?
Kane: “For breakfast, I vary it. I might have a slice of brown bread, avocado, and a two or three egg omelette with some spinach. Sometimes I have coconut yoghurt with berries, homemade granola and a bit of honey.
“It depends, especially when you're preparing for a game. The day before the game, I tend to consume more carbs than I would throughout the week.
“I’ll also be up with the kids before school cooking breakfast, whether that is scrambled egg, omelette or a simple yogurt with fruit.
What are you trying to gain from your food in the mornings?
Kane: “Before training, I usually have an idea of the session's intensity. So, I adjust my calorie and carb intake accordingly. When building towards a game, if you are playing on a Saturday, then from the Friday morning I start carb-loading from breakfast and continue until the game.
“It varies depending on where we are in the season, how many games we're playing, and what's coming up.”
What sort of meals do you typically have at lunch? What are you trying to gain from your food?
Kane: “Again I vary. I love salmon, rice and veg. I will have salad and veg with every meal. I try to get as many nutrients as I can from food. I balance protein and carbs, leaning more towards carbs before a game. On lighter training days, I might cut out carbs for a meal and go for protein and veg. The aim is to remain lean but also ensure you aren’t missing out and I have enough energy.”
What about your dinners? Do they differ from your lunch meals?
Kane: “It's mostly the same for dinner. I tend to eat fish or chicken, sometimes beef. I eat white fish, and salmon. I vary it for lunch and dinner.”
Do you have any "healthy cheat meals"? Things you really want to eat that are still healthy, or are you very strict with your diet?
Kane: “I think it's important to switch off sometimes. Sometimes I will go out with my wife or some friends and I won’t worry too much about the calorie intake.
“It is about having that balance. When I am working, I am working and I am eating healthily but after a game when I've burned a lot of calories and had a good game, I'll go out and enjoy eating some good food. It could be sushi, pizza, whatever I fancy at the time.
“There's a balance because food can also help mentally. Eating healthy and feeling good mentally puts you in a good place, but you also need to switch off, just not to the point of overdoing it.
“At the right time, for example after games is probably the main time I switch off a bit, but I'll have a cheat meal now and then, as long as it doesn't become a habit or several days in a row.”
And how important is hydration?
Kane: I am someone who tries to drink as much water as I can throughout the day. It is something I do for sure to help with training and the games.
So you have noticed a significant difference since you began receiving help with your nutrition?
Kane: “Yes 100 per cent, absolutely. With recovery and at different stages of the season, such as pre-season when we're trying to build and get stronger, food can make a big difference and has had a significant impact on my career.”