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What are Lionel Messi's diet, workout, fitness and training secrets?

Whether you regard him as the undisputed GOAT or not, Lionel Messi is still one of the greatest players to have graced the football pitch in the history of the game. The Inter Miami superstar seems to get better season by season, defying the expectations that naturally come with growing older and leaving your 'peak' years.

Despite now being in his mid-thirties, Messi still looks better and brighter than ever as evidenced in the fact that he helped Argentina win the World Cup in 2022. So what is the secret to his football abilities, and how much of it is down to his dietary and workout regime as opposed to raw, innate, natural talent?

GOAL takes a look at the secrets behind the Argentine's skills, stamina and speed, including his diet, workout and fitness regimes.

How does Lionel Messi train? Workout regime in focus

Messi isn't as weight-heavy as his former La Liga rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is known for his rigorous exercising regime. Still, however, he does have to follow some regular workout plan under the supervision of his coaches.

According to Pinata, the Argentine's workouts revolve mainly around making sure his body is up to speed – literally. He focuses on maximising his agility before each matchday and working on his linear speed.

In order to build his speed, his workout is divided into different sections which contain several exercises. In terms of basic movement, he practises the pillar bridge-front, lunges, hamstring stretches, and pillar skips. He also uses the hurdle hop as well as split squats in order to strengthen his core and leg muscles. To end his portion of the workout, he does different acceleration drills to boost his pace.

The next step of the linear speed workout is to maximise his multidirectional speed. Messi uses the exercises of pillar skips, skipping ropes, and squats to further build his leg muscles. For agility, he skips past diagonal hurdles, cones and other obstacles to improve his lateral movements. At the end of each workout, drinks plenty of water to keep himself hydrated and then jogs for five to 10 minutes to cool down.

Of course, training regimes depend on an individual's physical capacity and needs, so, when Messi was returning from a serious injury in 2019, he was placed on an individual programme at Barcelona, which involved training on sand.

Among the exercises carried out on that occasion were band resistance sprints, shooting drills and cone-shuttle sprints. The focus of the training was in replicating real-world scenarios and building up stamina in the muscles, ligaments and joints.

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What food does Lionel Messi eat?

You are what you eat, so it's no wonder that Messi is on a strict diet to help maintain his footballing ability.

Italian nutritionist Giuliano Poser revolutionised the Argentina international's diet since working with him in 2014. He identified five key foods – water, olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables – as the foundation for Messi's dietary regime.

"Also very good are nuts and seeds,” Poser explained and has also advised his client to cut down on the sugar.

"[Sugar] is the worst thing for the muscles. The farther he stays away from sugars, the better," he continued. “Refined flours are also a big problem as these days, it’s difficult to find uncontaminated wheat."

Like many nutritionists working with athletes, he has advised against excessive meat consumption – something all too common in South America and Spain. "The amount of meat normally eaten by Argentinians and Uruguayans is too much, as it is difficult to digest," he said.

“My methods are not in doubt, everyone can see Leo week in, week out.”

Messi, like many South American footballers, is a huge fan of mate, which is a tea drink rich in antioxidants. As well as being a stimulant, mate contains vitamins B and C, with benefits associated with improved immune function and sleep.

"I like my mate hot and bitter," he told Marca in 2019. "I used to drink it sweet, but then got used to the bitterness."

What is Lionel Messi's favourite food?

Messi's "favourite recipe" was revealed by Barcelona to be roasted chicken with root vegetables. The club shared the recipe with supporters on its official website and it goes as follows:

  • 30g olive oil
  • Salt
  • Four smashed garlic gloves
  • One onion
  • One bunch of carrots
  • One leek
  • 700-800g potatoes
  • Four chicken thighs
  • Fresh thyme

The instructions for cooking Messi's favourite dish using the above ingredients are simple: Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade, add oil and salt to roasting tray, then add chopped vegetables and chicken. Once prepared, roast for 45 minutes at 190 degrees.

As well as loving pasta dishes, Messi is also a self-confessed fan of Argentine speciality beef dishes Asada (grilled and sliced beef steak) and Milanesa (a thin fillet of beef shallow-fried in breadcrumbs), and has previously admitted his struggles with cutting out regular meat from his diet: "What you can put into your body at 18 or 19 years of age is not the same as what you can put in at 27."

According to AS, the striker has also been told to give up pizza, another one of his favourite foods.

What are Lionel Messi's cheat meals?

While they are not strictly cheat meals, Messi has a sweet tooth and says that his biggest weaknesses are "chocolate, dulce de leche (caramel) and ice cream.

He told Marca: "I like anything sweet. I try not to eat too much of it, but I like it."

What other fitness secrets does Lionel Messi have?

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Of course, Messi's natural gift, ability and skill is what makes him such a talented footballer. His incredible technical prowess is one in a million, and they are innate. There are so many fitness exercises and regimes you can try out in the hopes of trying to become a player like Messi, but there's a reason why he's touted as a GOAT – he is just a unique, born and bred talent.

Performance innovation team director at Athletes' Performance Craig Friedman, however, has explained the natural phenomena behind Messi's speed and agility.

"First you have to be explosive and powerful," Friedman told ESPN. "Then, you have to be stable enough through your ankles, hips and torso to be able to deliver that power efficiently into the ground. And finally, you have to deliver the power into the ground in the right direction, and that's where technique comes in."

Needless to say, Messi – relatively small in stature compared to his colleagues – excels in all three areas.

"He's a small guy," Friedman continues, "but his rate of force development is very high and his power-to-weight ratio is just ridiculous."


Another key aspect of Messi's fitness regimen is the incorporation of rest periods, particularly now that he is in an age bracket where physicality naturally diminishes over time.

Inter Miami, like Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona before them, must carefully manage Messi's training load and playing time, so the days of playing 50-plus games a season are over.

Nowadays, it is not unusual to see Messi wrapped in proverbial cotton wool, sitting out less important games, starting games on the bench or being taken off after one hour. This approach helps to maximise his effectiveness.

Indeed, if you watch Messi closely on the pitch during a game, he is often walking, sometimes in a jarringly casual manner while the action unfolds around him. This is a small example of how Messi intelligently conserves his energy during games.


Of course, it perhaps goes without saying, but Messi is a meticulous planner and pays close attention to detail in all aspects of his life, not just the football.

He revealed an almost obsessive focus on order in a 2019 interview with Marca: "Before going to sleep, I like to leave the table ready for the next morning. During breakfast, everyone is always in their place, in the same place."

In this regard, Messi's intense focus is similar to that of other superstar players, including David Beckham and, of course, Ronaldo.