The key to surviving a long grueling season is recovery and rest between matches and training. Therefore, it is a key part of football nutrition to know what to eat after a football match to repair your body in the most efficient manner.
Below we will discuss the best foods to consume straight after playing to get the most out of your training and matches.
Don’t forget, recovery starts before you kick off, so make sure you know what to eat before a football match and what to eat during a football match. These are all vital areas of a footballers diet and will give you the best chance of success.
Now onto post-match recovery…
Other Footballer’s Diet Articles…
- Post Match Refueling – What to Eat After a Football Match
- Refueling: What to Eat During a Football Match
- Nutrient Timing for Footballers – Fuel to Win
- Football Nutrition for Elite Players 2017/18
- What to Eat Before a Football Game?
Carbohydrates Are Key to Fast Refueling
After playing an intense football match your liver and muscle glycogen stores will be fully depleted.
Therefore, it’s essential you replace these used up energy stores immediately.
Moderate training session = Partially depleted glycogen stores
Intensive football match (or training) = completed depleted glycogen stores
The Effects of Bad Refueling on Daily Training
If you play football regularly, it is even more important to refuel after a match or training.
Proper recovery gives you the best chance to train as hard as possible the next day, perform better, and lower the risk of injury.
This image shows the amount of muscle glycogen stores available when you train (or play matches) on a low Carb vs a high Carb diet.
High Carb Diet = Daily Glycogen (energy) Stores stay the same
Low Carb Diet = Daily Glycogen stores deplete to almost half each day
Therefore if you don’t take on the right carbohydrates and train the next day, your energy stores will be around half of what you started with.
It gets worse…
If like most footballers you train again the day after that, your glycogen stores will be even lower, which will increase the chance of burn out and injury.
Here’s a great post match meal idea from Fourfourtwo:
What’s so Special About Carbohydrates After Football?
When your body takes on Carbohydrates after intense exercise, you restore glycogen stores and absorb blood glucose at a high rate.
The most important time to replenish your stores with carbs is the 2 hours after a match or training.
Compared to replenishing 4 hours after, which can cut your glycogen synthesis rates in half.
The Half Hour Window
However, for the best results the window straight after a football match or training which is the most beneficial.
But be quick as this window is only 30 minutes.
It’s important to consume carbohydrates high on the glycaemic index. These are known as simple carbs. The body absorbs these carbs faster, thus replenishing stores faster.
The optimum range to take on for glycogen synthesis is:
1-1.5grams per kg of body weight
To be consumed within 15-30 minutes of finishing your match or training.
But replenishment doesn’t stop there…
You need to continue taking on this amount of carbs every 2-6 hours, depending on how you feel and the time of day.
Ideas for Post Workout Carbohydrates
It’s not all about carbs though, protein plays a part as well.
Protein’s Role in Post Match Recovery?
So carbohydrates replace the energy in your body, but what about repairing the muscles?
Well, that’s where Protein comes in.
After a tough 90 minutes, your body is battered and your muscles are broken. Therefore your post match nutrition must also repair the body.
This is where protein comes in.
Once the match is over there is a reduction in protein breakdown and an increase in protein synthesis, resulting in a positive muscle protein balance (muscle protein growth).
However, this muscle growth can be improved further…
Consuming Proteins that cause high blood amino acid levels (Hyperaminoacidemia) increases amino acid delivery to muscles and cells.
Proteins supplements such as Whey and Casein are proven to increase the blood’s amino acid levels greater than free form BCAA’s.
Protein Synthesis is how your body converts amino acids into proteins. Similar to most body processes, it is effected by your diet. Therefore if you are not providing your body enough energy, protein production will be slower than the rate it is used up. This will cause a loss of muscle mass (catabolism).
The best proteins to consume after playing football are:
- Whey Protein
- Casein Protein
- Soy Protein
All of the above contain a high amount of the essential amino acids needed for repairing and building muscle.
But How Much Protein Is Enough?
During the 15-30 minute window after intense training you should look to consume:
0.2 grams of protein per kg of your body weight
Here are our favorite post-match snacks high in protein
The Ultimate Post Match Recovery Nutrition
So now you know the best Protein and Carbs to eat after your match you are all set to go.
You could enhance your post match recovery even further by combining these two macronutrients (Protein and Carbs).
The key is consuming a meal or snack that consist of a 3:1 ratio of Carbohydrates over Protein.
Don’t worry, we’ve provided some of our favorites below.
Post Match Recovery Snack Ideas
Before we list our favorite recovery meals, honorable mention must go to a simple glass of chocolate milk.
Forget all of the expensive shakes and supplements, research has shown that Chocolate milk is one of the best recovery meals available.
Chocolate milk has the perfect combination of simple sugars and the correct amino acids to replace muscle glycogen stores and boost your muscle recovery.
Here are some of our favorite Post match/training snacks:
What About Fat for Recovery?
Carbohydrates and Protein are only two-thirds of the macronutrients needed for a healthy diet. The final nutrient is Fat.
It is not essential to replace fat after a match or intense training session. Your bodies fats stores are so vast, that they’ll never deplete during a match or a high-intensity training session.
So it’s just Protein and Carbohydrates you need to priorities for the perfect post-match recovery.