Top Tips to Stay Hydrated for Football
You're like a car radiator
When you're training hard throughout the week and playing games at weekends, it's vitally important to constantly be replacing the fluids you've lost through sweating to avoid dehydration and to maintain your performance level as well as aid in recovery.
Think of your body as a car radiator... If you don't keep the radiator full then the car is going to overheat, run poorly and eventually break down all together! With dehydration you'll experience significant reductions in both mental and physical performance, and this can all be easily avoided by implementing the tips below.
Training when it's hot and humid
If you're playing particularly in the heat, heavy sweating will result in greater losses of both bodily fluids and electrolytes. Add humidity to that as well and you'll need to be even more 'on the ball' with your re-hydration.
Although replacing lost electrolytes such as sodium and chloride is important, remember that a much greater proportion of water is lost when sweating, so replacing water should always be your number one priority.
Which drink is the best?
Of course, there are a number of sports drinks available which will provide you with fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates to boost your energy. These are scientifically formulated, are not are marketing scam and they really will help you stay hydrated. However a cheaper alternative is to make your own sports drinks with water, a pinch of salt and a splash of fruit cordial (squash, or fruit juice).
When it comes to sports drinks you may have come across the terms: hypotonic, isotonic and hypertonic. It can be confusing to understand the difference between each of these drinks, it's actually quite simple and below I've summarised some of the key differences:
Hypo means less. A hypotonic drink is more dilute than your body fluids (i.e. there are fewer particles such as sugars and electrolytes), which means that the drink can be absorbed faster than plain water itself.
This is the one you'll hear most commonly. Isotonic means that the fluid is at the same concentration (i.e. the same number of particles per volume) as your body fluids - it is therefore absorbed as fast as or faster than water. Such fluids provide an ideal compromise between re-hydration and refueling so these are perfect to consume during your training sessions or throughout your match.
Hyper means more or greater than. Hypertonic drinks (for example Coke, lemonade or fruit juice) are more concentrated than body fluids, and will be absorbed slower than water. Hypertonic drinks slow down the rate at which the stomach empties and therefore reduce the speed of fluid replacement. These are better post-exercise drinks that offer a higher dose of energy with the fluid to help with restoring depleted muscle glycogen levels.
Keeping it cool
The temperature of the fluids you're consuming will also have an impact on your re-hydration. Cool fluid enables more rapid movement of fluid out of the stomach compared to warm drinks, so wherever possible try to keep your drink in a cool place next to the pitch and aim to be having a few sips at least every 20 minutes.
Depending on the training session your coach has laid on or what's happening in the match that's not always possible, so it's really important to make sure you're well hydrated before your training session or match. You'll find some techniques below on how to do that...
How to maintain your hydration throughout the day:
1. Make sure you're drinking water with every meal. Try to consume isotonic and hypertonic during and after matches only, the acidity and sugar content can cause dental issues if consumed all the time.
2. Keep a drinks bottle at hand throughout the day which can be topped up.
3. Make re-hydrating after a session your key priority, you'll continue to lose fluid even afterwards through urine and continued sweating.
4. Drink 1.5 x the amount of fluid lost within 1-2 hours of your match or training session. An easy way to work this out is to weigh yourself before and after matches and training.
Each kg lost is equal to 1 litre of fluid. So if I'm 2kg lighter than I was before the match then I know I need to consume at least 2 litres of fluid. Do this a few times and you'll start to recognise how much you'll need to be drinking after every session.
5. Begin each session fully hydrated. A good indicator of this is that your urine will be clear. This will require you to be drinking regularly throughout the day.
6. Make sure you have a drink at every opportunity possible if at training or in a match. As a defender I used to put a drink in the goal so that the keeper can easily throw it to me if the opportunity arose.
7. When you are fully hydrated before training, don't continue to consume lots and lots of fluid leading up to training - a few occasional sips is fine. Drinking too much can cause stomach upset. Again use the colour of your urine as a guide.
If you want to delve even deeper and discover how further optimising your nutrition can boost your performance, click to check out our programme below.