Team Sport Nutrition: Hydration & Carbohydrate Strategies

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.

Football Blue Flags 1

Introducing Virginia Santesteban

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 sports 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.

Reccomendations for Hydration

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.
Football Team Orange Kits

Post-Training & Competition Situations

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 for Post-Training Hydration
  • 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)
Football Sat on Pitch Drinking Water

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.

Join our Foundation Course in Soccer Nutrition

The demand for sports science, physiotherapists, sports nutritionists, and performance & coaching specialists with a background in football & team sports is growing.

Many students are leaving university with a sports 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 as a nutritionist? 

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 understand all the key components, and soft skills that come with jobs in football or careers within the 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 accredited Soccer & Sports Nutrition online sports science course, where you will be exposed to a sports nutrition course based around a team sport environment & key football science principles.

Female Footballer Drinking Water

How This Course Will Improve You

  • 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.

What Does This Course Cover?

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

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