Team Sport Nutrition:
Hydration & Carbohydrate Strategies

ISSPF Article

In winning the Copa del Rey for the 1st time in 34 years, not only did Real Sociedad CF have a fantastic start to the season, but they now added silverware to their trophy collection. Although the fantastic achievements of the club this season are mentioned globally, along with praise for the well-known Head Coach Imanol Alguacil who has grown up coaching within the youth, B-team & now the senior team in addition to talisman, former Manchester City FC legend & Spanish International player David Silva. .

Pep Guardiola soccer methodology

One name that will fly under the radar within the club is someone we at ISSPF are delighted to call a faculty member. Real Sociedad CF ‘Director of Performance Nutrition’ Virginia Santesteban, is reaping the rewards for her high level work. With Virginia being responsible for all the nutritional fuelling, recovery & individual nutritional periodisation strategies, employed within the La Liga club across all the age groups inclusive of the 1st team.

Working at the very elite level of the game, Virginia discusses her work within Real Sociedad CF highlighting hydration strategies within our ISSPF online sport nutrition course. Within this module she covers the specific hydration strategies in team sport environments, highlights the different types of sport beverages as well as discussing the consequences of dehydration & hyperhydration. Furthermore, Virginia then goes on to highlight specific sporting examples for rehydration post-training & competitive match-play.

A deeper dive into this key topic area highlights how carbohydrates (CHO) & fluid intake are both suggested within literature to have a positive influence on football or soccer performance. According to specific research in this area, a negative fluid balance or dehydration is a common feature during football matches, especially in warmer climates.

Recommendations during competition may involve:
Within team sports competition, the opportunity for players to rehydrate during the game is limited. As a result its vitally important that during games or competition, players or athletes must:

  • Look to consume between 150-300 ml (2-3 ml/kg) every 15-20 minutes
  • Aim to take on-board approx. 30-60 g CHO per hour i.e. preferably a cool 11-14°C drink with concentrations recommended between 5-7%
  • Try and avoid protein, high concentration & fibrous based fluids
  • Always try or train the hydration & energy replenishing strategies in training rather than competition
Jurgen Klopp soccer methodology

Post-Training & Competition

Its vitally important that team sport athletes notably soccer players or footballers and other sporting individuals initiate the consummation of fluid and CHO immediately post-training or match-play. Targeting the ‘window of opportunity’ which is suggested within the 1st 2-hour period post exercise,  maximises the body’s muscle glycogen synthesis or uptake/replenishment of energy stores. Delaying this replenishment can significantly reduce the recovery capability of the player. Obviously, missing this window of opportunity is vitally important within a fixture congestion phase, or a period of multiple training sessions.

Recommendations post-training & competition may involve:

  • Drinking the equivalent to 150% of fluid loss within the 2-4 hours post-training or match-play
  • If fluid losses are greater than the equivalent of > 2 Litres per athlete, then important to add 3-5g/l of sodium to maximise rehydration
  • Limiting or avoiding caffeinated or alcoholic drinks (especially in hot & humid climates)
  • Taking on board between 1.2-1.5 g CHO/kg every 2-hours post-exercise for recovery
  • Try and take high glycaemic index CHO food sources post-training or games (i.e. full module on the Glycaemic Index foods in the ISSPF Soccer & Sport Nutrition online course)
Ramadan fasting in women's soccer

It is vitally important to understand basic sporting nutritional concepts in order to maximise performance through adequate health, wellbeing, fuelling & recovery principles. Maximising nutrition doesn’t automatically result in success & winning, however, it’s another example of providing your players, athletes & teams with no-excuse mentality to achieve.

Nutrition is such a huge component of performance coaching & a topic that is so detailed that in this article we’re only able to scratch the surface. However, hopefully reading this has made you think about the food & fluid consumption of your soccer players or football team, and further highlights the impact you may have based on provision of simple but effective nutritional information.



The demand for sports science, physiotherapists, sport nutritionists, performance & coaching specialists with a background in football & team sports is growing. Many students are leaving university with a sport science degree, nutritional or performance related qualification, however many of them asking the key question – What now? How do I get a job in football? What’s the next step? Which area of sport or football science & medicine do I want to specialise in? How do I gain more information about nutrition in football or soccer?

This is certainly an interesting question as progressing from completing a relative degree to then working in professional sports, such as soccer or football & trying to understanding all the key components, and soft skills that come with jobs in football or careers within sport is complex.

As a result, the bespoke courses developed by ISSPF Elite Sport & Soccer Nutritionists & Football Science Faculty members are a way of further exposing learners, parents, professional coaches, students, or other individuals interested in football science with a thirst to develop & upskill further.

The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF endorsed & University & Football Association accredited Soccer & Sport Nutrition online sport science course, where you will be exposed to a sport nutrition course based around a team sport environment & key football science principles.

The ISSPF University endorsed & accredited online sports nutrition course is a blend of highly regarded academic experts & practitioners from around the globe exposing their practical experience & theoretical knowledge for the development of this specialist sport performance area.

    Ramadan fasting in football

    Why is this online ISSPF accredited soccer nutrition course important?

    • Understanding the key energy sources required to perform repeated high intensity & explosive movements within the intermittent nature of soccer is of paramount importance;
    • Fueling to perform & recover from both training, competitive games is very specific across a range of levels of the game;
    • All practitioners and coaches can only benefit themselves and their players even further by having a more in-depth knowledge of nutrition;
    • May help us to reduce the risk for non-contact muscle injuries, through a better understanding of key timing of nutrients;


    Who is this course for?

    • Individuals tasked with the responsibility for the preparation, recovery, training & coaching aspects of both individual athletes or team sports
    • Individuals with an interest in developing their knowledge in the preparation, training & development of individual athletes or team sports


    To register for the course, click the link below:


    Outline of the Foundation Certificate in Soccer Nutrition:

    Module 1: Energy balance & body composition: basics of soccer physiology
    Lecturer: Sam McHaffie (Science In Sport [SIS]) England
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 2: Understanding Macro & Micro-nutrients
    Lecturer: Dr. Eirini Manthou (Olympiakos) Greece
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 3: Soccer health & wellness (vitamins, minerals)
    Lecturer: Matthew Jones (West Ham United, Chelsea FC) England
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 4: Fluid balance & soccer specific hydration 
    Lecturer: Virginia Santesteban (Real Sociedad CF) Spain
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 5: Training, Match & Recovery Fueling – Soccer Nutrition to Perform
    Lecturer: Dr. Adam Owen (Seattle Sounders FC) Wales
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 6: Maximising nutrition through injury
    Lecturer: Faisal Alshawa (Aspire, Qatar) Kuwait
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 7: The role of nutrition for the female soccer player
    Lecturer: Dr. Yasemin Batmaca (Besiktas) Turkey
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental

    Module 8: An introduction to nutritional supplementation and ergogenic aids
    Lecturer: Matthew Jones (West Ham United, Chelsea FC) England
    Topic: Sport Nutrition & Environmental



    ·         What is a healthy diet for a soccer player?

    ·         What should a soccer player drink?

    ·         What foods should soccer players avoid?

    ·         Why is nutrition important for soccer players?

    ·         What nutrients does a footballer need?

    ·         How many calories should a soccer player eat a day

    ·         What should a soccer player eat for lunch


    ·          How much protein should a soccer player eat

    ·         What does a professional soccer player diet look like?

    All these questions are covered within our ISSPF online sport nutrition courses – we look forward to you joining us.



    Key Words:


    • Football nutrition
    • Soccer nutrition
    • Sports nutrition
    • Hydration
    • Carbohydrates
    • Team sport
    • Sport science degree
    • Online sport nutrition course