| Written By Lloyd Webb Features

Top Five Drinks For Football 

With so many sports drinks on the market, it can be hard to find the right one for you. When it comes to football, we’ve spoken to our resident sports scientist Chris Barnes to find out what the professionals are drinking before, during and after a game so your selection headache is a thing of the past.

Considering the average human body is made up of around 60% H20, it’s important you get the right fluids into your body when it comes to preparation, performance and recovery – just a two per cent drop due to dehydration is enough to impact your game. Take a look at our definitive list of the drinks you need to incorporate into your game.

Water

Ask any sports scientist, they’ll tell you the best drink for any sport is water. Preventing muscular fatigue, avoiding cramp, reducing dehydration, boosting the immune system and increasing energy are just a few of the many benefits water can boast while it’s important to get the right amount of hydration before, during and after exercise.

“The amount of fluid you lose in a match will vary according to the demands of the game and weather conditions,” says Chris Barnes. “It’s useful to gauge how much fluid has been lost by weighing yourself pre-match and post-match. For every one kilogram lost, you should aim to consume one-and-a-half litres of fluid. Do ensure you maintain a healthy state of hydration – the average athletic male adult should aim to consume between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half litres of fluid each day while women should drink slightly less.”

Fruit and vegetable smoothie

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a concoction of fruits, vegetables and yoghurt or milk makes for a fantastic recovery drink. Not only will your immune system reap the rewards from an increase in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but the protein and carbohydrate content makes sure you successfully refuel, reduce muscular fatigue and build muscle.

“If you wish to take extra protein on board after exercise, consume yogurt or a fruit smoothie,” continues Chris. “To help the recovery processes post exercise, and reduce soreness and inflammation, try to consume natural antioxidants such as sweet cherry or broccoli. To maintain a healthy immune system, you should consume a fruit and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. Mix up the colours to achieve this and some good examples include blueberries, tomatoes, green beans and bananas.”

Chocolate milk

Yes, you did read that right – chocolate milk is good for you. Well, to be more technical, it’s high protein and vitamin content makes for an ideal recovery drink after a difficult training session or match. It doesn’t have to be chocolate, any flavour does the trick, but milk replaces the sodium and calcium lost while sweating in addition to the energy-refuelling carbohydrates and important vitamin D.

“Following a strenuous match you may not have a recovery drink to hand,” adds Chris. “A terrific alternative, and one which provides protein and vitamins, is to drink a pint of milk. If you don’t like plain milk, there are plenty of flavour choices such as chocolate, strawberry or banana. Football puts huge stress on the bones, so you’ll need to ensure your diet contains sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D which work hand-in-hand to support good bone health.”

Isotonic sports drink

Good luck going to a match and not seeing a popular isotonic sports drink brand – they’re everywhere. Athletes are paid a lot of money to consume such products, but do they actually do anything for you? The answer is yes, but getting the right one suited to your sport is important. Footballers should be aiming for a specific amount of carbohydrates as Chris outlines below while such drinks also ensure you maintain a constant level of blood sugar and electrolytes.

“There are many sports drinks on the market,” says Chris. “An ideal one for football players would contain approximately six per cent carbohydrates. Use these drinks around training and matches. Avoid using them for daily activities as you can derive the energy for that from your normal diet, while it’s also important to replenish energy stores after a football match as soon as possible. When tough sessions are planned in quick succession you’ll need a healthy balance of electrolytes to maintain optimum nerve and muscle function. Consuming electrolyte recovery drinks (containing sodium, chloride and potassium) is an excellent way of addressing this challenge.”

Protein shake

You may associate such drinks with bodybuilding, but protein shakes are an important part to the modern footballer’s recovery process. Proteins are vital for manufacturing hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components and without it, muscles take longer to repair leading to fatigue and injury. You can get most of the required amount from solely solid food, but should you have games in quick succession, a protein shake can help the recovery process.

“It is vitally important that you recover well,” says Chris. “Taking a protein shake containing a combination of protein (20-25g) and carbohydrate (25-40g) provides many of the immediate nutrients you need to kickstart the recovery process.”

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