Food for football
Why is fluid important?
Fluid has a vital role in the body so drinking enough is important for good health and good performance.
Even small fluid losses can make exercise seem more difficult and affect your performance in training and matches.
Dehydration can mean:
- poor concentration
- slower reaction time
- poor co–ordination
- getting tired more quickly
What should you drink?
Drink a wide range of fluids: water, sugar–free dilute squash, fruit juices, milk, milkshakes, yogurt drinks, soup and sports drinks. Water will also be obtained from foods – for example, fruit and vegetables have high water content. The occasional cup of tea of coffee can be used to get fluids in too.
How much do you need?
As a general rule, if you are drinking enough you should be producing urine every couple of hours. Urine that is clear in colour and not strong in smell should mean that you are well hydrated. (If you take a vitamin supplement or sports drinks the B–vitamins can cause your urine to be a bright yellow colour.) During exercise, fluid is lost from the body as sweat and needs to be replaced. Every player has different fluid needs. These are influenced by many factors including your size, how hard you exercise, the weather and what you wear.
The easiest way to work out your usual losses from exercise is to weigh yourself before and after a training session. Any weight loss is fluid loss and this needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Remember that there will be big differences between players on the same team!
For every 1kg of weight that is lost you should aim to drink 1500mls.
Training and matches
Drinking fluids before, during and after exercise will prevent dehydration and re–hydrate you. Sports drinks have the benefit of easily providing fuel, usually in the form of carbohydrates, and also replacing electrolytes (salts) lost through sweat. Carbohydrate is an important fuel for exercising muscles but it will also help you absorb water so long as it is at the right concentration.
Drinking milk can be a good way of helping to get fluids back into your system. It will also give you protein and some salts to replace all these things that you have lost during your training or match.
Remember your teeth!
Sugary and acidic drinks (fruit juices and sports drinks) can have a damaging effect on your teeth and you need to be careful. It is especially a problem if you are sipping drinks over a long period, wear a brace or a gum shield.
To help protect your teeth:
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly: you may need to consider having a toothbrush and toothpaste in your kit bag
- Use sugar free gum to reduce the acid in your mouth
- Rinse your mouth with water regularly
- Drink sweet or acidic drinks through a straw or squeeze past your teeth