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Nutritional Tips to Prepare for a Match

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How do professional footballers prepare for a match?

Your muscles produce heat as you exercise. Sweating is your body’s way of removing this heat to manage your temperature. If you replace the liquid lost as sweat, you’ll get dehydrated. Lose the equivalent of just 2% of your body mass and you’ll increase your body temperature, and reduce your mental and physical performance. You will also feel more fatigue after the game. Drinking an energy drink before, at half time and after a game is essential to keep your body functioning effectively for football fitness. However, water alone isn’t enough to maintain hydration. You’ll need an energy drink that also replaces salts and minerals lost through sweating.

Always start your training session in a hydrated state. You’ll be in good shape if you usually drink two litres of fluid over the course of the day, and drinking 350-500ml of fluid two hours before you train is good too. A great way to check your hydration is to monitor the colour of your urine. If it’s dark or highly concentrated, drink more fluid. Consume fluids containing the electrolyte sodium and/or amounts of salted snacks to stimulate your thirst and help you retain the fluid you’ve drunk.

Drinking lots of fluid at half time prevents significant dehydration and large changes in your electrolyte (principally sodium) balance. How much fluid you need to drink will depend on how much you sweat. This can be affected by the position you play, the level at which you play at and length of your matches. You will obviously need more hydration for a full 90 minute football match compared to a five-a-side game. Aim to maintain hydration at a body mass loss lower than 2%. This can be calculated, and monitored, by measuring the change in your body weight immediately before and after playing. Drinking 150ml every 15-20 min during any exercise will keep your fluid levels topped up. Isotonic sports drinks are the preferred drinks for endurance-based exercise.

It is a good idea to have a training plan that includes when you have finished playing. So after a match, replace the fluid and electrolytes you have lost. The main things to bear in mind as you rehydrate are the volume and composition of the fluid you consume. Plain water’s for rapid and complete rehydration. It stimulates high urine production and reduces your drive to drink. Fluids containing sodium help you retain fluids, stimulate thirst and improve the absorption of carbohydrates in the small intestine. You should consume 1.5 litres of fluid for each kg of your body mass lost as sweat, you could use a popular sports drink to do this.

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