Hydration for Footballers

Do you want to know more about proper hydration and fluids can improve your performance?

Then you’re in the right place.

This page will break down all areas of hydration, and how to measure and predict your fluid needs.

The best part?

These hydration tips and techniques will start working straight away!

So, are you ready to find out how to hydrate like a pro?

Let’s get started!

What is Hydration and why is it important?

Hydration is simply the process used to replace water in your body.

A planned hydration strategy is an important part of any footballers diet. It helps to:

  • Regulate body temperature
  • Allow your muscles to contract
  • Maintain blood volume

When you play football your body sweats to stay at the optimal level. However, this sweats lead to a loss of fluid in your body.

The harder you workout, the more your body temperature increases and the more you sweat.

Therefore it is essential you drink fluids to help replace any fluids lost in sweat and fight against the effects of dehydration.

However…

The rate at which you sweat is often higher than the rate you can drink fluids, therefore you will not be able to fully re-hydrate during a match.

So understanding the optimal fluid intake guidelines is important to allow you to perform your best.

But…

Remember you can actually drink too much fluid, which has a negative effect on your performance. So if you are serious about your nutrition and hydration, then you must assess your swear level and have a proper hydration plan.

5 Benefits of staying hydrated

Dehydration puts excess strain on our bodies, so it’s important that we look after our bodies and stay hydrated pre, during and post training or matches. The main benefits of hydration are that it:
  1. Fights fatigue
  2. Prolongs endurance
  3. Avoids muscle cramps
  4. Make you less likely to suffer from dizziness during or post exercise
  5. Increases body endurance

Daily Water Needs

How much water should you drink a day?

The amount of water you should drink a day depends on you as an individual. Your body composition, age and daily activity will all affect how much water you should drink.

As a guideline authorities suggest 2 litres a day, which is eight 8-ounce glasses.
However, if you train daily and live an active life you should consume more fluids to regulate your water levels.

Try our water intake calculator for a daily water needs guideline:

Recommended Water Intake Calculator

Calculate your own daily recommended water intake using our water hydration calculator:

Recommended Litres per day

How Dehydration Effects Performance

Hydration in sport plays a huge part on how well you perform. The more dehydrated you become, the more your mental and physical performance decreases.

Studies have shown that losing as little as 2% of your body fluids can lead to athletes suffering from:

  • Increased fatigue
  • Reduced motivation
  • Increase perceived effort
  • Reduced endurance

Whereas losing more than 2% results in more severe conditions such as:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • And in very severe cases death

Dehydration stops your intestines from being able to absorb fluids, therefore you are unable to level out your body fluid deficit from sweat loss.

This can make you feel sick and even result in a bloated feeling in your stomach.

Signs of Dehydration

As your body becomes dehydrated signs appear to highlight that it’s time to take on more fluid. These include:

  • Lower levels of urine output
  • Dizziness
  • Dryness of your mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Low levels or no tears
  • Headaches
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Tiredness
  • Urine turns more yellow than usual

If you fail to notice or react to these sings, you will become more dehydrated and the following symptoms will develop.

Dehydration Symptoms

There are many issues that arise if you become severely dehydrated including:

  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Increased dizziness, which will make it hard to walk or stand
  • Develop fever
  • Increase Heart Rate
  • Confusion or coma
  • Lack in skin elasticity
  • No urine output
  • Body goes into shock

How to check if you’re dehydrated?

As we mentioned earlier, a great method for checking your hydration level is to check the colour of your urine.

Once you have checked, compare your urine colour to our chart for an idea of your bodies water levels.

Urine Colour Chart

A urine colour chart otherwise known as a urine hydration chart enables you to stay hydrated by monitoring the colour of your urine and act before you reach the more extreme colours at the lower end of the scale.

Most of us become dehydrated at least once a day, so by learning to keep your hydration at optimum levels you will experience a higher level of energy on the pitch and during training.

Urine Colour Chart

The lighter the colour of your urine, the more hydrated your body is. 

Most people experience darker urine at the start of the day as you have been sleeping for 8 hours without fluid. This is expected. 

However, if you urine colour reaches the bottom 2 colours at any point throughout the day, then you need to hydrate yourself straight away. 

Top 3 Ways to Prevent Mid Training Dehydration

  1. Sip 7 – 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes whilst training to maintain your hydration levels
  2. React to early signs of thirst by sipping fluid little and often instead of gulping water to avoid getting a stitch
  3. If you’re training or playing for longer than an hour, you will also need to replace electrolytes (found in bananas and coconut water amongst other fruits)
  4. Use a sports drink with electrolyte enhanced water, but only drink up to 1 every 2 days to avoid over hydration

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

Yes you can.

Overhydration will effect your performance on the pitch and also make you feel uncomfortable and bloated.

If you are doing a light training session or playing in cold winter weather, your sweat rate will be less than in high intense/hot weather matches.

Therefore your fluid needs will decrease.

In fact it can be dangerous to drink fluids at a higher rate than your fluid loss through sweat. This can dilute the sodium levels in your blood (known as hyponatremia).

Symptoms of drinking too much water:

  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Severe cases, death

However over hydration is very uncommon, as you will feel some discomfort from consuming too much water.

Here is a great video by FourFourTwo on how professional players test their urine, calculate their sweat rate and hydrate accordingly. 

Calculating your sweat rate

How to Calculate your Sweat LossThe process for measuring sweat production involves weighing yourself before and after exercise. It is important that when you step on the scales you are wearing minimal clothing and barefoot.
How to calculate your sweat rate

Example of Sweat Rate Calculation:

If you drink 600ml during a 90 minute match and your pre match weight was 70kg and post match 69kg then:

Players Sweat Rate is: (1 + 2) ÷ 3

  • 1 = Weight change throughout the match: 70 kg – 69kg = 1kg
  • 2 = Amount of water consumed during the match = 600 ml
  • 3 = Match length = 90 mins which is 1.5 hours

Therefore the players sweat rate is: (1000 + 600) ÷ 1.5 hours = 1.7 liters/hr

If math is not your strong suit, you can use this sweat rate calculator to do the work for you.

18 Hydration Facts and Top Tips to Stay Hydrated

  • Muscle tissue contains over 75% water, so without water, fatigue will set in and affect your performance including your acceleration, power, agility, stamina, and flexibility.
  • Dehydration increases your risk of injury due to muscles becoming less responsive and a reduction in elasticity.
  • Staying hydrated whilst training or playing a match is important because of your body is sweating which causes rapid fluid loss from your body, and there is no super secret to stay hydrated, it’s actually the obvious…drink, and drink often!
  • An early sign of dehydration is having a dry mouth or even dizziness. Dizziness is caused by the decrease in plasma volumes that occur when exercising because the heart has to work harder to pump blood to your muscles, so if you are dehydrated you don’t have as much water in your blood causing a drop in blood pressure and volume which results in dizziness.
  • Check the colour of your urine when you use the bathroom using our urine colour chart. The colour of your urine is a good indicator of your hydration levels. The paler your urine the more hydrated you are.
  • Pinch the skin on the back of your hand for a few seconds and let go. If the skin takes a while to return to its normal position this may be a sign of dehydration.
  • Drink electrolytes found in bananas and coconut water at least once a week. They are super minerals that help your body to regulate
  • Most fruits contain both electrolytes and fluids, making them ideal to avoid dehydration, help you stay hydrated and reduce unhealthy snacking. It gives your body a boost of vitamins having multiple benefits on your bodies functionality
  • Drink a large glass of water before you go to bed to enable your body to process waste and remove impurities
  • Drink a large glass of water in the morning as soon as you wake. This will help your body to re-hydrate after a night of no fluid intake
  • Carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go (we recommend a hydration tracker water bottle). This enables you to sip when you are thirsty instead of waiting until you return home to drink
  • If you aren’t a fan of drinking water try adding fresh slices of orange or lime to flavour the water. It acts as a healthy alternative to cordial which has many excess sugars in it
  • Drink a large glass of water 1 hour before a match or training session to prepare your muscles for high impact endurance where they will lose fluid through sweating
  • When you are feeling hungry, drink water. We often confuse the feeling of hunger with wanting food when our body actually wants fluid
  • Try to fit ‘drinking a glass of water’ into your routine. For example, drinking at breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime, before you are going out to drink alcohol etc,
  • Buy yourself a large 2 litre water bottle and pour your water from this during the day to help you monitor if you are drinking enough fluid
     

Muscle tissue contains over 75% water, so without water, fatigue will set in and effect your performance including your acceleration, power, agility, stamina and flexibility

What are the best Hydration Drinks?

There are endless amounts of drinks available claiming to help hydrate you for better performance.

1: Water

A simple and easy fluid to drink for hydration is mineral water. This provides adequate re-dration for light sessions or for pre match hydration.

However as your exercise intensity increases your muscles require electrolytes and carbohydrates to help enhance performance. These energy sources can be found in sports drinks

2: Sports Drinks

Sports drinks also known as:

  • Isotonic Drinks
  • Hypertonic Drinks
  • Hypotonic Drinks

Are the most popular sports drinks to aid in player performance.

These drinks have high levels of carbohydrates and electrolytes which in muscle energy recovery and promote water uptake in the intestines during a match. The sweet flavour enables players to drink more in one go, which helps to re-hydrate quicker.

3: Caffeine

A very popular ingredient for performance drinks is Caffeine.

Small doses (75-200mg) have been proven to:

  • Improve performance
  • Make exercise feel easier
  • Improve concentration
  • Oxidize more fat cells during exercise

However…

Caffeine effects each player difference, so be sure to trial using caffeine drinks in training before matches.

Alcohol

In the past footballers have often had a swift pint post match, with some players even believing the carbohydrates in beer helped players recover.Unfortunately this urban myth is untrue, and alcohol post match actually slows down the recovery process.Check out our guide on alcohol and football performance for more details.

Hydration Supplements

Why Do Professional Players Take Hydration Supplements?

Hydration supplements are popular with footballers because the body digests them quickly. This is important pre and post match to ensure we maintain a balance of carbs and electrolytes as well as water.

Carbohydrate depletion and dehydration are two ongoing challenges you face as a football player.

Hydration supplements address both of these problems in healthy formulas that release carbohydrate and fluid during exercise, helping players to maintain their maximum performance.

Over consuming carbohydrates makes it difficult for your body to absorb, and under consuming carbohydrates increase fluid delivery but compromise carbohydrate delivery.

So…

To make this simpler, professionals use scientifically backed hydration supplements that are made to deliver the correct balance of carbohydrate and fluid to your body.

Find out more about how you can add safe supplements to your diet to improve your performance.

Here is a great video from Science In Sport on how Manchester United players stay hydrated with supplements.

Hydration Supplements Ingredients
Most hydration and electrolyte supplements contain complete formulas of protein or creatine to maximize their effectiveness and contribute towards rapid muscle regeneration. The 2 main ingredients in hydration supplements are:
  • Laxogenin – proven to to increase protein synthesis, and muscle recovery
  • Adamantine – proven to boost strength and muscle mass. Adamantine is also a popular nutrient for players whose training has begin to plateau, since it triggers your anabolic rate, helping you to continually develop your body strength and muscle groups

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Our website provides readers with content for informational and educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice from qualified healthcare providers. You must always consult a qualified healthcare professional when undertaking fitness, training or nutiritonal programmes.

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