Hydration: The Key to Match-Winning Performance

Keeping your body hydrated is an essential part of sports nutrition.  Your body needs fuel in the form of fluids.  It is also an essential part of your well-being and your key to match-winning performance.

If you don’t have enough water in your body at any given time, your body will suffer. 

As a footballer, not providing yourself with the necessary amount of water, or limiting it, can cause you to have a number of problems including the risk of serious health complications. 

On top of that, your performance will suffer without the right amount of fluids.

Why Water Matters

Think about the job water has in your life and how important it is in your body. 

  • It moves the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients around your body, keeping the blood moving and carries the fuel your cells need for energy. 
  • When doing the above, water helps to remove the waste products from your cells. This keeps your cells at an optimal level.
  • Finally, your body uses fluids to regulate body temperature.

Can you live without water? The simple answer is no.  When it comes to sports nutrition, it is nothing short of essential. 

The more you know about how water helps in sports nutrition and how important it is for you, the easier it is to put into practice.

Weather you are training or competing, your body burns energy and it produces heat, this heat races through your body. 

Think of your body as a computer, if the components gets too hot, it doesn’t perform as well as it should.  Therefore, you install fans and cooling systems to keep it working at the best level possible.

This is the same for your body, it needs to be kept cool.

Additionally, your body needs to have these fluids to allow you to carry all the nutrients throughout your body. 

Since you are working on developing muscles, enhancing your strength or developing your attributes, your body needs those nutrients to get where they need to be. 

Water helps your body to grow, but also helps you to repair cells as you work hard to achieving your goals. 

The Importance of Fluids to Performance

If you are low on fluid during a match, your performance can drop by 5-10 per cent in the second half. (FourFourTwo)

If you lose 2% of your body’s fluid, your overall performance will drop considerably, you will make mistakes due to a drop in concentration levels.

If you lose 5% of your body’s fluid, you can find yourself facing heat exhaustion and your work rate drops as you begin to tire.

If you lose 10% of your body’s fluid, you are at risk for heat stroke and even death through dehydration.

In other words, being hydrated is essential to your performance.

How Much Is Enough?

Thirst is the first sign of dehydration so you need to take on fluids before reaching that point.

If you begin to start feeling thirsty, you have already lost at least one percent of your body’s fluids and are already putting your performance at risk.

You need to drink more than enough to quench your thirst.  Do not stop when you are no longer thirsty. 

It is essential that you keep fluids moving in your body, pumping energy to your cells so that you can perform.

But how will you know when you have enough fluid in your body?

Checking the colour of your urine is a good indicator if you are dehydrated or not. Compare the colour of your urine to that chart below.

The lighter your urine is the more hydrated you are.

How Much Fluid Do I Need? Listen to Your Body

You know your body better than anyone else.

If your body is telling you it needs fluid, it’s too late and your performance is already dropping.

Your sweat rate depends on how much fluids you need to replace. On average a footballer will cover around 8 and 12 kilometers per game.

You should weigh yourself before and after training or match to see how much water you have lost during your session.

If you have lost 1 kg in sweat you should replace 1.2-1.5 times that amount. That means slowly consuming between 1.2 and 1.5 litres of fluid at the end of each training session or match.

Tips For Drinking Water

Here are some basic things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to water.

  • You should drink small amounts of water more often. This will give you a constant level of fluid.  If you drink too much water too quickly, you will get a bloated feeling.
  • Drink water without ice. The right temperature is cool water, about 50 to 40 degrees.
  • Your body absorbs cool water quicker, this means it starts working as soon as you drink it.
  • Stay away from caffeine. Caffeine is actually like a diuretic and will increase the amount that you have to urinate.  Therefore, you are not rehydrating yourself.

What To Drink

Water is the best type of fluid for you to consume to hydrate yourself but you can also drink different fluids at different times to hydrate, boost and recover.

Before – Water for hydration.

During – Water or electrolyte enhanced sports drinks.

After – Chocolate milk or protein shake.

What are electrolytes?

Lucozade Sport say that sports drinks are better than water because they are packed with carbohydrates and electrolytes that fuel your working muscles and replacing essential minerals lost in sweat.

When considering whether or not you need to drink sports drinks, you need to consider what your practice has been and what your body needs.

We look at this in more detail in our next post


Hopefully you now have a better understanding of hydration and why is so important and that it is different for each person.

Here’s a quick summary of tips for optimising your hydration during exercise.

Aim for light coloured urine – it’s a good sign that you are not dehydrated.

Monitor weight loss – and replace lost weight with fluid, this will depend on your sweat rate and the intensity of exercise.

Have the right amount – being over-hydrated does not boost performance and it will increase your risk of negative side effects, having too little will not keep you hydrated.

Using these tips will help you keep your body hydrated and help you train, perform and repair at the optimum level.

Remember: Your body needs water consistently throughout.


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