Football Nutrition: 5 Steps To Boss Your Evening Kick-offs

From the UEFA Champions League to local 5-a-side tournaments, there’s nothing quite like a mid-week match under the lights. The trouble is, for those of us who never made it to the elite ranks, an evening game often follows a long day at work.

Whether your job is physically demanding or you’re mentally frazzled after a day of meetings, it’s understandable if you feel drained before the game has even kicked off.

Thankfully, you can take steps to make sure you’re in peak condition when the ref blows his whistle. We outline them in this article, including ways to get the most out of our soccer supplements…

Step 1: Get A Good Night’s Sleep

You can train hard and get your football nutrition spot on, but all that good work can be undone if you’ve had a poor night’s sleep.

First, there’s the impact on your concentration levels. If you haven’t caught enough Zs your ability to make smart decisions on the pitch will be affected.

Second, your motor skills will be significantly slower. In other words, it will take longer for messages from your brain to reach your muscles and joints. This leads to increased reaction times, so you might find it harder to dodge tackles. And that puts you at a higher risk of injury.

Finally, you’re more likely to feel fatigued, meaning you’ll have less energy to make lung-busting runs up the pitch.

Get a solid eight hours the night before a game and you’ll feel sharp, energised and ready to play to your potential.

Step 2: Match-Day Hydration

Studies1 show that your performance on the pitch takes a nosedive if you lose 2% of your body weight in water through sweat. For someone who weighs 70kg, that’s just 1.4 litres (and most people will sweat a lot more than that if it’s a warm evening).

So when you’re at work on a match-day, it’s always important to make sure your water bottle is close by.

A helpful hydration tip: supplementing your H2O with electrolytes such as GU Hydration Tabs helps your body retain fluid and use it more effectively.

Step 3: The Perfect Pre-Match Meal

On match-day, it’s important to get in enough calories. But to avoid stomach issues you’ll want to avoid eating a big meal right before kick-off.

A nutritionally balanced lunch with plenty of carbs and protein – something like a jacket potato with tuna and salad – will be enough to see you through the afternoon.

Then, just before you finish work, you’ll want a light, easy-to-digest meal. A piece of fruit and a sandwich or a bowl of cereal are good options.

If you feel like you need an additional energy boost closer to kick-off, gulp down a GU Liquid Energy gel or try a couple of GU Energy Chews. Both contain quick-absorbing carbs.

Step 4: Warm-Up Like A Winner

To get your evening game off to a flyer, you’ll want to warm up like the pros. It can be tempting to make do with a quick jog around the pitch before taking a few shots on goal, but that won’t sufficiently prepare your body for match conditions, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day.

Instead, start by spending 3 to 5 minutes getting your heart rate up with some low-intensity exercise. It might sound daft, but a quick game of tag with your teammates will mimic the multi-directional movement you’ll face during the game.

Next, 3 to 5 minutes of dynamic stretching: squats, lunges and leg kicks can help activate the hips, quads, glutes and hamstrings.

Finally, get up to full match intensity with 3 to 5 sprints – each around 20m – with short recoveries in between. Race your teammates to keep things interesting.

Step 5: Recover Fast And Go Again

Once the final whistle goes, you need to start thinking about recovery. Before you jump in the shower, knock back two scoops of our Full-Time Recovery Drink mixed with water. This will help refuel and repair your muscles with its 2:1 blend of carbohydrates and protein.

The perfect post-match football nutrition, it’s also packed with vitamins and minerals – including magnesium. This is particularly effective as it helps relax muscles and replenish red blood cells, which have been hard at work providing your body with oxygen during the match.

1https://www.gssiweb.org/en/sports-science-exchange/Article/does-dehydration-really-impair-endurance-performance-recent-methodological-advances-helping-to-clarify-an-old-question

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