What and when you eat around training sessions and matches will have a big impact on how well you perform and how quickly your body recovers between exercise bouts.
This should be eaten 2-3 hours before exercise and should contain a source of carbohydrates and protein to help top up fuel levels in the body and feed your muscles. Avoid eating unfamiliar foods or too much as this may cause stomach discomfort during the training session or match.
A high carbohydrate snack should be eaten around 30 minutes before exercise to help top up energy levels.
It is not necessary to eat anything or drink sports drinks during shorter duration, low intensity training sessions – water is fine to help maintain hydration. During high intensity sessions or sessions lasting more than 1.5 hours, energy may need to be replaced to keep players running further and faster and also help maintain skills and judgement when players would otherwise become tired. Sipping on homemade sports drinks is ideal as it hydrates the body and replaces energy at the same time.
Recovery after each training session or match is essential to help refuel and rehydrate the body and repair damaged muscles. This is particularly true when players are required to train or play on consecutive days. Recovery snack and fluid should be:
During training and games, players naturally generate heat leading to a rise in body temperature. A rise in body temperature can be both detrimental to performance but also continue to fatigue. Our bodies attempt to compensate for this by sweating.
When players do not consume enough fluids during training and games to compensate for these sweat losses, dehydration can quickly occur.
A loss as low as 2% of body weight has been shown to affect performance – in a 13.5 stone player, 2% is as little as 3.75 lbs. This may not sound much but in a single training session or game a player can easily lose up to 4% of their body weight.
Many players do not deal adequately with dehydration and in fact, never fully rehydrate after training or a game. This leads to players taking part in further training sessions or games already in a dehydrated state exposing themselves to a greater risk of injury.
In response to dehydration, you will feel thirsty, however, thirst is not a good indication of dehydration. By the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated.
Knowing how much fluids have been lost is important in rehydrating the body. There are a number of easy ways of monitoring hydration levels. Using these in combination will give a simple and accurate method of monitoring hydration status.
For each kg of weight lost through sweat – replace with 1.5 litres of fluids.
Along with water, electrolytes are also lost through sweat – water alone will not replace these electrolytes. Sports drinks are a good option as they contain both carbohydrate and electrolytes. See homemade sports drink options.
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