HYDRATION

The National Athletic Trainers’ Associated released in 2000 a Position Statement titled Fluid Replacement for Athletes. This document provides extensive recommendations for all levels of athletics and a number of these are highlighted below:

  • Establish a rehydration strategy that considers the athletes’ sweat rates, sport dynamics, environment, acclimation state, exercise duration and intensity, and individual preferences.
  • Athletes should begin all exercise sessions well hydrated. To ensure proper preexercise hydration, the athlete should consume approximately 17-20 fluid ounces of water or sports drink two-three hours before exercise and 7-10 fluid ounces of water 10-20 minutes before exercise.
  • Fluid replacement should approximate sweat and urine losses and at least maintain hydration at less than 2% body weight reduction. This generally requires 7-10 fluid ounces every 10-20 minutes of exercise.
  • Post-exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid loss accumulated duringPost-exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid loss accumulated during the practice or event.  Ideally completed within 2 hours, rehydration should contain water to restore hydration status, carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and electrolytes to speed rehydration. 
  • In many situations, athletes benefit from including carbohydrates (CHOs) in their hydration protocols.  Consuming CHOs during the pre-exercise hydration session, along with a normal daily diet, increases glycogen stores.  CHOs should be consumed about 30 minutes before intense exercise and should be included in the hydration beverage during exercise.  An ingestion rate of about 1 g/minute maintains optimal carbohydrate metabolism: for example, 1 L of a 6% CHO drink per hour of exercise.  CHO concentrations greater than 8% (18+ g/ 8oz serving) increase the rate of CHO delivery to the body but compromise the rate of fluid emptying from the stomach and absorption from the intestine. 
  • Those supervising athletes should be able to recognize basic signs and symptoms of dehydration:  thirst, irritability, and general discomfort, followed by headache, weakness, dizziness, cramps, chills, vomiting, nausea, head or neck sensations, and decreased performance. 
  • Adequate salt in the hydration beverages will stimulate thirst, increase voluntary fluid intake and decrease the risk of hyponatremia. 
  • The optimal sports drink will provide the following key ingredients:  electrolytes (sodium), carbohydrates, and good taste.

GENERAL NUTRITION

Competitors in physically and mentally demanding team sports like soccer understand the importance of speed, agility, power, and creativity.  Proper nutrition and hydration is the fuel that allows players to help their team to victory.  Below are some pointers to keep players performing at their best!

  • PRE-WORKOUT FUEL: Athletes should fuel their bodies 2 to 3 hours before practices and games with a high-carbohydrate meal or snack.  This will give the body additional energy to help make it through the workout or game. 
    TIPS:  Pre-game or pre-workout meals should include high-energy foods like breads, cereals, pastas, rice, fruits, vegetables, and lean sources of protein.  Avoid foods high in fat, fiber, or protein just before training or competition.   They slow down absorption and can cause stomach upset. 
  • POST-WORKOUT FUEL: Athletes can burn up muscle energy stores (carb stores) during a tough workout.  So it’s important to replenish by choosing carbohydrate-rich foods within 30 minutes after practice or game and again within 2 hours.
    TIPS:  Snacks like cereal mixed with peanuts and raisins, an energy bar, and a sports drink like Gatorade will help athletes  refuel fast, and is good to have on hand in a backpack or cooler immediately after an intense workout
  • ENERGY FOR TOURNAMENTS: Tournaments present unique opportunities and challenges for the individual soccer player and the team as a whole.  One of the most important challenges is supplying adequate fluid and food to fuel the athlete participating in multiple matches throughout the tournament period.
  • DEMAND FOR ENERGY: A single soccer match may deplete most of a player’s fluid and nutrition reserves.  During a tournament, matches may be as close as an hour apart leaving little time to rebuild fuel sores.  Consequently, fatigue sets in sooner; speed, skills, accuracy, concentration, and creativity are compromised, and the risk of dehydration increases.  In warm environments, the degree of dehydration and its associated danger are even higher. 
  • SUPPLY OF “SPORT-FRIENDLY” FOODS AND DRINKS: Immediately after a match, the hunger sensation may be blunted so it is crucial that foods or beverages consumed at this time be high in carbohydrates (CHOs), the major fuel for the physical demands of soccer.  In order to store those carbohydrates as muscle glycogen, the body also needs sufficient fluid.  Tournament concession stands and fast-food restaurants offer limited selections, often with many high-fat foods.  When possible, it is best to bring a supply of sport-friendly foods and beverages to the tournament.  Some examples include: bagels, cereal, sports drinks, high-carbohydrate sports and energy drinks, fruit, vegetables, and energy bars.
    TIPS:  Skip the soda.  The carbonation makes it harder to gulp down enough fluid, plus carbonation can bloat the stomach, affecting metabolism, and sometimes causing indigestion. Cut out Caffeine.  Caffeine can be a diuretic, which increases fluid loss as urine, impairing rehydration. Get some Gatorade.  Water can blunt thirst before the athlete is fully hydrated and doesn’t supply needed nutrients to fuel the body, such as electrolytes and carbohydrates.