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Supplements for Football

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Are you thinking about adding supplements to your footballers diet?

Do you need advise on safe and effective supplements that will help improve your game?

We’ll we have you covered.

Below we will go through the science backed supplements that are allowed within the professional game.

Are you ready?

Lets get started!

CONTENTS

Football Supplements

CHAPTER 1

What are Sport Supplements?

The following section will explain the basics of nutritional supplements for footballers.

For a more in-depth analysis of safe supplements that have been proven to improve physical and mental performance and overall health for a footballers, check out our football nutrition plan. 

What are Sports Supplements?

The official name for a sports supplement is an Ergogenic Aid (or Nutritional Ergogenic Aid).

These are nutrients a player takes in the form supplements or food, to improve recovery, energy production, and energy use.

You should initially experiment in training with any new supplements, before taking before matches. This will allow you to assess the performance benefits and any side effects

Several sports supplements on the market are unsafe or unproven.

Therefore you must research the product.

Sometimes, they sell the supplements on the theory behind the performance benefits, with no studies being carried out.

So…

There is a risk of you wasting your money on a placebo product.

So if you are serious about progressing in the game and feel that supplements may help you, then read our evaluation below. 

Pros and Cons of Sports Supplements

Before adding any supplements to your diet, you should understand the benefits and negative of dietary supplements.

Pros Of Sports Supplements

Well let’s start with the biggest benefit – Sports supplements do have a direct enhancement on your performance in matches and training.

They also ensure you meet most of your nutritional goals that may be missing on a healthy diet. Again resulting in better performance.

There are also psychological benefits from adding sports supplements to your footballers’ diet. This is known as the placebo effect.

Cons of Sports Supplements

There are many benefits to adding supplements to your diet, however you should also be aware of the risks.

Expense

Pharmaceutical companies make millions selling products and staying stocked up on supplements will soon burn a hole in your pocket each month.

Side Effects

Every player is different, therefore players will react different to each supplement. Make sure you are aware of any side effects before experimenting with sports supplements.

Contamination

One of the biggest cons of sports supplementation is understanding whats actually in the product. The higher the level you compete, the more likely you are to be drug tested.

Therefore it’s even more important to know exactly what you’re putting on your body. So before you take any supplements, be sure to make yourself aware of what supplements are banned by football.

Download the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list of substances here.

The use of banned supplements appear more in the semi-professional game, as drug test are less common.
However, the risk of using the majority of these ban supplements vastly outweighs any performance benefits. So the bottom line is, eat clean and supplement (safely) if needed.

Heres a great video from AthleanX on which supplements are suitable for each age.

CHAPTER 1

Supplements for Footballers

The following section gives you  brief introduction into some of the most popular supplements for footballers. 

Our football nutrition plan delves more deeply into the most popular and safest nutritional supplements and how to take them alongside a healthy diet. 

The Best Supplements for Football Players

Before adding any supplements to your footballers diet, you should carry out thorough research. We even suggest seeking professional advice from a sports nutritionist or doctor to be certain you have a safe product. In most cases any deficiencies can be rectified by small changes in your diet before trying supplements. This solution is much healthier and lighter on the wallet. If you are consuming a healthy balanced diet and still need an increase in vitamins and minerals, then supplements may help to improve your deficiencies. But, we stress the importance of caution and not exceeding the recommended dose as this can cause serious health risks.
best-supplements-for-football-player

Protein for Footballers

An essential supplement for any player wanted to preserve and build muscle and perform at the peak levels throughout the season.

Your footballers diet plan should include nutrient rich foods high in protien.

However, if you train regularly you may find it difficult to reach the required protien numbers your body needs.

The Australian Institure of Sport lists protein as a Grade A supplements, which means it provides definite athletic performance benefits.

Protein supplements are available in powder, bars and liquid form and the main protein supplements are:

  • Soy Protein
  • Casein Protein
  • Whey Protein
  • Egg Protein

Whey protein is by far the most popular. It is relatively cheap and has the following performance benefits:

  • Quickly digested, perfect for post match recovery
  • High in leucine, which plays an important role in protein synthesis
  • Its amino acid profile is perfect for building muscle

The second most popular form of protein is Casein, which has the following performance benefits:

  • Slowly digested, so releases amino acid of a longer period. So perfect to take before bed for muscle recovery while you sleep
  • Helps boost muscle growth

Creatine

Our brains and muscle fibres contain an organic compound called Creatine Phosphate.

This provides a quick source of energy for muscles to contract. It also provides the same burst of energy in the brain for the neurons.

The amount of Creatine Phosphate stored in your muscles can be increased by certain creatine supplements.

These supplement can also help with improving your sprinting, by increasing the energy available during intense exercise.

If I player is looking to build muscle mass, then creatine may be the way, as it can lead to gains in muscle size. It is also believed that creatine can increase glycogen stores in the muscles.

Creatine is found in fish and meat; but the suggested amounts needed to improve are higher than found in an everyday diet.

Research shows that taking the proper dosage of creatine is not harmful to your health, but as with any supplements you must not exceed the suggested dosage:

creatine-dosage-guideline-for-football-players

We suggest that any player under 18 should refrain from taking Creatine or anybody building supplements. As your body is still developing and these supplements may have negative effects on your development.

Caffeine

Believe it or not caffeine can work wonders for a football player. But no need to splash out on expensive caffeine supplements. A simple cup of coffee has all the caffeine you need to improve performance in prolonged and shorter spells of exercise. Amounts as small as 2-3 mg per kg of your body weight is enough to produce the following benefits:

  • Disease Prevention: A 2011 study published in Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition, showed that antioxidants in coffee help the body fight against disease. Suggesting Parkinson’s, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s’ disease could all be prevented by drinking coffee.

 

  • Less Muscle Pain: Coffee drinkers expressed less muscle pain than non coffee drinkers in a study carried out by the University of Illinois. This allowed participants to complete more reps whilst training. They suggest consuming a strong coffee 30 minutes before training for the greatest benefit.

 

  • Focus: Black coffee can help to improve your focus, allowing you to be more alert at training and take in more from your coaching. This will Insure every training session is productive and effective.

 

  • Increase in Performance on the Pitch: Various experts suggest coffee can help improve athletic performance. One report published in sports medicine, suggests athletes can perform for longer if they consume coffee before a game. A second study in the British Journal of sports science concluded that athletes who consumed coffee before running 1500m on the treadmill, finished 4.2 seconds on average faster than those who hadn’t had coffee.

 

  • Speeds up Fat Loss: One of the best benefits of drinking coffee before training or matches is its fat burning tendency. Coffee is believed to force the body to use fat for energy instead of glycogen stores. It also speeds up your metabolism and suppresses your appetite meaning you won’t binge eat outside of your healthy diet.

Just be sure not to consume too much caffeine as this can have a detrimental effect on your health and sleep patterns.

Now we have covered the supplements that can help outside of your diet, let’s look at negative effects of supplements and the rules around usage.

Beta – Alanine

Beta-Alanine has become popular supplement for footballers in recent years.

In short, Beta-Alanine is an Amino-Acid and is used to make carnosine, which works to buffer the acidity produced in your muscles when you train hard.

The acidic built up (hydrogen ions) in muscles as we trainin have negative effect on your performance.

So an increase is Carnosine helps your muscles by reducing fatique.

A 2009 Study  found that beta-alanine increase sprint power output by up to 11.4%. Highlighting that safe supplementation will help improve sprints towards the end of a long high intensive workout or match.

Other Benefits of Beta-Alanine:

  • Decrease in fatigue levels
  • Delays fatigue in muscles
  • Improves areobic and anarobic endurance
  • Improves muscular strength and power
  • Increase in work capacity
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Reducing in neuro-muscular fatigue (helps with tactical performance)
  • Will show improvements with 2 weeks

Is Beta-Alanine Safe?

Reseach has proven Beta-Alanine to be a safe supplement to use, if you stick to the recommended guidelines.

However, their are some reported cases of a tingling feeling (pins and needles). This is completely normal and nothing to worry about, it tends to go aware your third dosage. If the tingling continues we suggest dividing your dosage over the course of the day, or purchase one of the safe slow release formulas on the market.

Beetroot Juice

One of the best kept secrets in sports nutrition is using beetroot to help improve performance.

The reason for this is because of the large amount of nitrate contained within beetroot. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide which plays a vital role in our body.

The sporting benefits from beetroot juice (more nitrate oxide) are:

Dilation of blood vessel
Helps to delay fatigue
Improved Oxygen delivery
Increase in dilivery of nutrient to muscles

Here is a great study  on how beetroot juice helps endurance in athletes.

Side Affects of Beetroot Juice

The only possible side affect from supplementation with beetroot juice is that your urine or stool may turn a slight pink colour, however this is harmless.

There are other vegetables high in nitrate:

  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Bok Choy
  • Rocket

However, beetroot juice is perfect for provided amount you need to improve performance.

Beetroot Juice Dosage

300mg of nitrate will provide the performance benefits you are looking for. This is the equivalent to:

  • 200g of cooked beats
  • 500 ml of beetroot juice
  • 140ml of concentrate juice shot.

BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

Amino Acids are known as the building blocks of protein.

The three essential amino acids that make up BCAA’s are:

  • Valine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine

Together these 3 form 1/3 of muscle proteins and supplementation with BCAA can spare muscle tissue.

However it is unlikely you will need to take BCAA on top of your protein shake and healthy diet.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition highlighted that BCAA’s are a safe an effective supplement. Studies have proven that BCAA’s:

  • Stimulate protein synthesis
  • Delay muscle fatigue
  • Help mental function during exercise
  • Help synthesize glycogen.

So, the research shows how beneficial BCAAs can be for a player. However the price, and the fact protein shakes contain BCAA’s means that you do not need to add these to your diet.

Sodium Bicarbonate – Baking Soda

This is a natural alkaline salt made naturally in our bodies.

Bicarbonate buffers the bodies CO2 and acidity levels during high-intensity exercise and removes them via our lungs.

This helps to regulate the body and prevent ph levels from becoming too acidic or too alkaline.

Too much acidity during exercise leads to fatigue and a build-up of lactic acid (burning sensation in your muscles).

A 2008 study  showed that ingesting sodium bicarbonate before a high-intensity workout help to improve performance, allowing for more prolonged power output.

The best part…

You probably already have a tub sitting at the back of your cupboards in your kitchen.

How much Sodium Bicarbonate should you take?

The recommended dosage is:

  • 0.3g per kg of your bodyweight (1-2 hours before training)

We advise taking this with water, as it is quite salty. There are flavored capsules available on the market, that are easier to swallow.

Side Effects of Sodium Bicarbonate:

There have been reports of people getting bad stomachs from taking sodium bicarbonate, so we suggest trying this before a training session if it’s your first time.

This is a safe supplement to include in your plan, however, as with any supplementation, you shouldn’t take anything that makes you feel uncomfortable on the pitch. 

FISH OIL – Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The main types of Fish Oil are:

  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

These are essential fatty acids for our bodies to perform at its best, however, we cannot produce these internally, so need to get them from our diet. Mainly from eating oily fish and salmon.

Fish Oil Benefits include:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing muscle soreness
  • Increase muscle synthesis
  • Improving aerobic metabolism

Omega 3 Daily recommendations:
1.3 – 2.7g of omega-3 fatty acids.

These recommendations refer to omega-3 fatty acids and not the fish oil tablet itself. As all fish oil tablets have different quantities of Omega-3.

TIP: Looks for fish oil tablets that have high amounts of EPA an DHA per serving.

TIP: Looks for fish oil tablets that have high amounts of EPA an DHA per serving

To find out more about fish oil for improving performance check out our fish oil guide.

CHAPTER 3

Supplements for Energy

The following section highlights some of the best supplements for improving your energy. 

However energy increase can be achieve naturally through a healthy diet and our football nutrition plan shows you exactly how to achieve this.  Plus so much more…

Supplements for Increased Energy

Often footballers get to the last 15 minutes of a workout, match or training and tire, wishing they had more energy in the tank. These are the players that supplement marketers look towards when creating energy supplements. Using buzzwords and false claims that their products will give you the extra boosts of energy when you need it most. There are several products on the market that suggest they can increase a player’s energy levels.

The main three supplements making these claims are:

  • Carnitine
  • Pyruvate
  • Ribose

At the time of writing this, these products are still unproven in the football world.

There is no scientific evidence to confirm any of the advertised benefits on the label can help footballers.

Supplements that do have proven benefits for energy are:

  • Caffeine
  • Beta-Alanine
  • Energy Bars
  • Energy Gels
  • Isotonic Drinks
best-supplements-for-football-players-2

CHAPTER 4

Supplements for Immune System

A healthy immune system is essential for staying fit for the season. The following section highlights some key supplements for improving immunune system health.

Our football nutrition plan shows you exactly how to alter for your diet for overall health and ensure your body recovers promptly after intense workouts.

Supplements to Help a Football Player’s Immune System

Playing at an intense level can lead to infections and illness. When you train hard you can create high amounts of stress hormones, which reduce the immune system’s ability to combat infections. There are many companies that supply products which specialise in restoring and boosting a player’s immune system.

Supplements that promote these benefits are:

  • Zinc
  • Colostrum
  • Glutamine
  • Echinacea
  • Vitamin C
  • Creatine
  • Calcium
  • BCAAs

As with several food supplements products, there is limited research on the benefits of taking these products.

If you feel you have a reoccurring problem with your immune system, you should consult your doctor and ask them about these four supplements.

Otherwise a healthy immune system can often be restored with adequate rest and a proper balance of carbohydrate stores in your body.

CHAPTER 5

Supplements for Joint Health

Healthy joints will help your sustain a long football career. This section recommends supplements to ensure you provide your joints with the correct nutrients.
However you can get most of these nutrients from a well thought out nutrition plan. This has all been taken into account within our football nutrition plan.

Supplements for Bone and Joint Health

Throughout the season you put your joints under immense pressure.

A combination of jumping, sprinting, tackling and heading, can all affect your body’s skeletal system. This highlights the importance to keep your bones and joints as healthy as possible.

The main vitamins and minerals for healthy bones are:

  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium

You should be able to get enough Calcium from a footballers diet.

However vitamin D from natural sunlight supports calcium absorption. Therefore you may need to supplement if you do not get a lot of suns all year round.

Best Supplements for Football Players- Joint Health

There are few proven products that cater to joint health. However the following two have been proven to help, reduce joint pain,

  • Glucosamine (study)
  • Chondroitin

Joint health can also be improved by regular stretching and making sure you have a lot of Omega-3 in your diet. This can be found in fish (salmon) or Omega 3 capsules.

CHAPTER 6

Supplements for Burning Fat

Our football nutrition plan and 4 week meal plan has bespoke menus to help you lose, gain or maintain your perfect weight.

Best Weight Loss Supplements for Footballers

Most players want to feel positive about their physique.

A 90 minutes match once or twice a week should give every player the right to have a great body composition.

This isn’t always the case and some players find it hard to shift stubborn fat and keep their weight down. Which often leads to using fat burners.

Their are a huge amount of products that claim to shift fat whilst building muscle.

However…

Few products actually deliver on this promise. And the few that do can be unhealthy or banned within football.

This even goes for several ‘Natural Herbal Products’ that advertise weight loss.

Sometimes these products contain ingredients not listed on the packaging.

As you can imagine it’s difficult to keep a healthy diet if you unsure of what’s in the product.

A well-planned footballers diet should help you reach your desired weight and body composition.

What do we recommend for weight loss?

However, our recommended product for footballers looking to lose weight is Caffeine.

Research have shown that 100mg of Caffeine a day resulted in:

  • Weight and body fat reduction
  • Improved metabolism

So the use of caffeine supplements such as REON is great for weight loss and focus.

Also drink plenty of water, check out our hydration guide for more info.

CHAPTER 7

Football Supplements Rules

Understanding the rules around safe football supplementation is esssential. However understanding that you can get most of your bodies nutrient needs is even more important. Don’t worry we have done all of the hard work for you with our football nutrition plan.

Supplements Rules in Football

Depending on the level of football or how serious you take your training will dictate what you may put in your body.

Academy or elite levels players have random drug tests throughout the season. Therefore we recommend against any supplement experimentation outside of your official nutrition plan (set out by your club).

Although the product packaging may appear legitimate, there are grey areas within the supplement industry which make it hard to police.

The Football Association advise against taking any supplements.

However…

If you plan on taking a supplement follow these guidelines:

  • Speak to a nutritional expert first
  • Understand the risks of contamination
  • Understand the consequences of testing positive for a banned substance

Reduce the risk of testing positive by:

  • Checking the Informed-Sport website
  • Make sure any supplements are batch tested
  • Carry out thorough research on the internet first.

Many cheap rouge supplements have added ingredients not listed on the packaging.

This could lead to a player taking a banned substance.

Its reported that one in four substances on the market today has ingredients that may cause a positive test.

Several companies list ‘Proprietary Blends’ on the bottle they do this:

  1. So a competitor cannot find the exact ratio of each ingredient and copy it.
  2. To mislead the customer and not show the exact quantities of each ingredient they are claiming to promote.

We suggest steering clear of any products listing Proprietary Blends.

CHAPTER 8

Supplements Classification

Our in-depth football supplements guide within the football nutrition plan covers only approved supplements.

Sports Supplement Classification

The world’s leading researcher in sports nutrition is the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). They research and test the safety and effectiveness of sports supplements and group them into classifications.
Their group classifications of sports supplements are A, B, C, D.

Category A – Approved Supplements

This is the top group of classification and any sports supplement listed in the category is supported for use in sport.
These supplements have the seal of approval from the AIS and have a proven record in performance enhancement. The supporting evidence of these supplements is conclusive.
Supplements that are classed in Category A are:

  • Beetroot Juice
  • Beta Alanine
  • Bicarbonate
  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • Sports Bars
  • Sports drinks
  • Sports Gels
  • Whey Protein

Category B – Supplements Under Consideration

Supplements in Category B may still work effectively, however they still require more research before AIS can promote them to Category A. So as yet the research is inconclusive.
This category contains supplements such as:

  • Anti-Oxidants
  • Carnitine
  • Fish Oils
  • Glutamine

Category C – Supplements That Have No Clear Proof of Beneficial Effect

This category is for supplements that are not recommended and have no beneficial performance effect.
Supplements that fall under this group are:

  • Coenzyme q10
  • Ginseng
  • Glucosamine
  • Ribose

Category D – Banned Substances

Steer clear of anything in this group, anything listed here is banned or a high risk of contamination that would lead to a positive result in a drug test.
Supplements that fall under this category include:

  • Ephedrine
  • Strychnine

For a full list of substances listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list click here.
If you want to get a second opinion or want to compare lists, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) have their own supplement classification system.

  1. Apparently Effective
  2. Possibly
  3. Too early to tell
  4. Apparently ineffective

Just remember…

Supplements are great additions to a healthy diet, but will never make up for a bad diet.

Professional Football Nutrition Plan

Fuel like a pro with your bespoke football nutrition plan. Written by sport nutritionists.

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