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The Pre, During, And Post Training / Post Match Dietary Strategy

Before implementing any training programme we must begin by concentrating on the crucial 3 to 4 hour period leading up to, and the subsequent hours following, any form of training (or match) in which footballers should adhere to strict nutritional and hydration guidelines.

These guidelines take on paramount importance when you consider the fact that every 8 hour period of sleep represents an overnight fast in which the body uses significant amounts of its carbohydrate stores. However, the benefit of this meal is solely dependent on footballers maintaining a nutritionally sound diet, and hydration programme, throughout each day. It can't correct existing nutritional, or hydration deficiencies, or inadequate nutrient intake over prolonged periods of time.

The following are guidelines which can be implemented with a great deal of success without the need for an in deapth analysis of the individual in question, which takes time, specialist equipment and requires a great deal of precise and highly advanced knowledge.

Please Note:

There's the theory, and then there's the reality of the real world. Any strategy you decide to implement absolutely must be based on the given individuals own personal like and dislikes, and on their physical, and mental ability to undertake the programme you give them over a very long, and sustained period of time.

As with anything that is new, trial and error's the only way to find out exactly what works best for you.

The 3 To 4 Hour Pre Exercise Meal:

Again, it's absolutely vital to say that the benefit of this meal's solely dependent on people maintaining a nutritionally sound diet, and hydration programme, throughout each day. It can't correct existing nutritional, or hydration deficiencies, or inadequate nutrient intake over prolonged periods of time.

It's also important to ensure that the body's always fully hydrated by ensuring that there's no consumption of caffeine either just before or just after training (or match). Ideally, these practices should be carried out as part of a normal lifestyle so that the body's always fully hydrated at all times, instead of trying to hydrate the body at the last minute.

The Aims Of The 3 To 4 Hour Pre Exercise Meal:

• To Restore The Liver Glycogen Especially After An Overnight Fast.

• To Continue To Fill And Maximise Glycogen Stores.

• To Ensure That The Footballer's Fully Hydrated.

• To Prevent Hunger Without Causing Nausea During Training (or match) And To Prevent Gastrointestinal Stress.

Practical Advice – What To Do:

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• The meal should contain 150 grams to 300 grams of low glycaemic index carbohydrates, which'll allow for a steady rate rise in blood sugar levels, thus eliminating an insulin surge followed by a rebound low in blood sugar levels. The meal should be low in fat, refined sugar, and also low in protein. For those who are unable to eat a large breakfast, 50 grams to 70 grams of a super manmade glucose polymer can be consumed in liquid form in addition to a reduced amount food.

• The pre exercise meal should also include about 300 ml to 600 ml of a sanctioned electrolyte fluid and then 150 ml of the same fluid every 15 to 20 minutes until about 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise. This'll leave time to go to the toilet prior to the start of the exercise.

As with everything, it's important to base any schedule during exercise on sound knowledge. However, it's also vital to adapt these principles to the exact requirements and attributes of the individual in question. What this means is that you must take into account what your body's telling you. 

For example, let me use the information already provided to illustrate the point. 

“The pre exercise meal should also include about 300 ml to 600 ml of a sanctioned electrolyte fluid and then 150 ml of the same fluid every 15 to 20 minutes until about 45 minutes to 1 hour before exercise. This'll leave time to go to the toilet prior to the start of the exercise. “

This information's all well and good, but the fact of the matter's that you have to put this information into practice and try it out for yourself in order to see if it works for you. You may find that the times given are too much, or simply not long enough. The same applies to the information below. You must base your own schedule on the facts and then try them out for yourself so that they meet your own individual, unique needs and sport specific requirements. One size doesn't fit all.

Practical Advice – What Not To Do:

• When adding fruit to this meal it's important to note that although the small intestine absorbs some fructose directly into the blood, it's the liver that must first convert fructose into glucose, which's carried out at a slow steady rate. This time delay means that fructose should be avoided after this meal as this time delay limits the availability of fructose as an energy source. In addition there's the fact that consuming high fructose beverages and foods causes significant gastrointestinal distress such as cramping, vomiting and diarrhoea, which in themselves can negatively impact on a person’s exercise performance, which in turn further limits fructose's availability for energy. 

• You should never train within about 2 hours of eating anything apart from a small snack which's eaten primarily to avoid hunger, but can also provide energy during exercise. After eating greater amounts there are serious implications as not only's the ability to train dramatically decreased, but there's also a real risk of a heart attack as the heart is not only being asked to pump the blood to the digestive system, but it's also being asked to supply blood to the muscles as well, which puts a massive strain on the heart.

• However, on the other end of the scale, high performance level athletes are able to reroute blood away from their skin to the point that they look very pale and very gaunt as they start to warm up. In these cases they are actually in peak physical condition as they have trained their body’s to reroute as much blood as possible into the muscles from the skin and digestive system ready for the race. This can be clearly seen in 1500 and middle distance runners. 

With regards anyone, as much as 35% of the blood which is utilized for digestive processes can be relocated to the muscles for an increase in performance output. This'ill leave approximately 5% of the body’s blood supply for the digestive system, merely to maintain the functional output of that part of the body’s systems. This makes eating before a workout or race even worse for elite level athletes as their heart rate will be elevated to a far greater degree. 

When 40% of the body’s available blood's available for digestion, this leaves only a total of 60% for all other bodily activities, so the body re-routes up to 35% to the working muscles, in order to enhance the delivery of nutrients and oxygen. Eating a large amount of food before a workout, therefore, is going to leave you with 35% less available blood for the working muscles, (due to the digestive system being occupied) and therefore your training is going to be less, performance wise, than if the extra blood was available for nutrient and oxygen delivery, due to the occupation of the digestive system processes.

The conclusion to this is simple. The less you eat before training or a game, the more blood that'll be available to go to the working muscles, and the greater your performance output will be.

• You should not consume large quantities of protein either before, or just after, training or competing, as protein consumption accelerates dehydration during training. 

The end product of protein breakdown, known as urea, is eliminated by the kidneys and excreted in urine once it has been diluted. The greater the protein breakdown, the more urea's created and therefore more water's required for dilution. Athletes who train in a carbohydrate depleted state as a result of a poor diet, or through over training, will use more protein as a source of energy and will therefore suffer greater levels of dehydration.

The Five Minute Pre Exercise Drink:

• Consuming 30 grams to 50 grams of a super man-made glucose polymer 5 minutes before exercise will maximise carbohydrate in the body, enabling this fuel to be used before the body has to use the carbohydrate stores within the muscles and liver. This'll not induce a rise in insulin with the subsequent rebound low due to the sudden increase of sugar, provided that the person continues to warm up, as the adrenaline will stop the insulin from kicking in. 

Glucose Polymers:

Glucose polymers are chains of between 4 and 20 glucose molecules which are produced from boiling cornstarch under highly controlled conditions. The big advantage of using glucose polymers instead of sucrose or glucose in a drink, is that you get a much higher carbohydrate concentration, usually between 10 grams to 20 grams per 100 ml, at a lower osmolality. This is due to the fact that each molecule contains several glucose units and yet it still has the same osmotic pressure as just one molecule of glucose. This is how you're able to produce an isotonic or hypotonic drink with a carbohydrate content higher than 8 grams per 100 ml.

The added benefit of using glucose polymers is that they're far less sweet than simple sugars, which means that you can produce a concentrated drink that's not so sweet or sticky.

During Exercise:

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Fluid requirements vary significantly between athletes and between exercise situations. Fluid losses are affected by:

• Genetics - People Sweat More Than Others As They're Genetically Made In This Way

• Body Size - Larger Athletes Have A Tendency To Sweat More Than Smaller Athletes 

• Environment - Sweat Losses Are Higher In Hotter, More Humid Conditions 

• Exercise Intensity - Sweat Losses Will Increase As The Exercise Intensity Increases 

• Fitness - Fitter People Will Sweat Sooner In Exercise And In Larger Quantities 

Practical Advice – What To Do:

• Using a, " one size fits all " approach to fluid loss is too vague for a fluid replacement plan as it won't take into account the individual requirements of athletes who have their own unique needs. It's possible, however, for footballers to estimate their own fluid requirements by weighing themselves before and after exercise sessions, with each kilogram of weight lost being equal to one litre of fluid. To this you add on the weight of any fluid or food that's consumed during the exercise session. For example, a footballer who finishes an exercise session 1 kg lighter and has consumed 1 litre of fluid during the session has a total fluid loss of 2 litres. 

Fluid loss is calculated as follows:

Pre Exercise Weight = 55 kg
Post Exercise weight = 53.5 kg
Volume Of Liquid Consumed During Exercise (1 litre) = 1 kg
Exercise Duration = 2 Hours

Fluid Deficit (L) = 55 kg Minus 53.5 kg = 1.5 kg
Total Sweat Loss (L) = 1.5 kg + 1 kg = 2.5.kg
Sweat Rate = 2.5 kg Divided by 2 Hours = 1.25 L Per Hour

You then divide this amount up into equal amounts that you drink every 15 to 20 minutes.

In the example above you must ensure that you go to the toilet just before you use these testing methods in order to ensure that the conditions of the test are always exactly the same. Therefore, you have to make sure that you don't go to the toilet prior to arriving to training so as to ensure that you need to go to the toilet when you arrive and just before you're weighed.

A coach should ensure that these guidelines are followed by encouraging footballers wherever possible, as drinking when you aren't thirsty doesn't come naturally and is something that'll need a great deal of practice. You can help by implementing the following:

• Educate Footballers As To The Importance Of Hydration And Ensure That You Make Rehydration As Important An Aspect Of Training As Training Itself.

• Make Sure That Footballers Have Their Rehydration Drink Close At Hand At All Times And That They Don't Leave Them In The Locker Room Or In Their Sports Bag.

• Call A Rehydration Check Point Every 15 To 20 Minutes During Training. 

• Re Check Athletes Fluid Loss From Time To Time To Reinforce The Importance Of The Rehydration Programme As A Pivotal Part Of Training. 

• Use A Cool Drink (15 To 20 Degrees C).

• Replace The Fluid Losses During And Between Exercise With A Hypotonic Electrolyte Based Drink When The Atmospheric Conditions Make You Sweat More, And When The Main Aim's Rehydration (Less Than 4 Grams Of Sugars And Electrolytes Per 100 ML). 

• Replace The Fluid Losses During And Between Exercise With An Isotonic Electrolyte Based Drink When The Atmospheric Conditions Make You Sweat Less And When The Main Aim's Replacing Carbohydrate (Between 4 Grams And 8 Grams Of Sugars And Electrolytes Per 100 ML).

• Very Prolonged Exercise May Warrant A Hypertonic Drink (Usually More Than 8 Grams To 10 Grams Of Sugars And Electrolytes Per 100 ML).

The Post Exercise Schedule:

The Aims Of The Post Exercise Schedule:

• To Replenish The Glycogen Stores That Were Depleted During Exercise As Quickly As Possible.

• To Replace The Fluids Lost During Exercise As Quickly As Possible.

• To Concentrate On Repairing Muscle Tissue Damaged During Exercise.

Practical Advice – What To Do:

• To increase glycogen replenishment after an intense carbohydrate depleting bout of exercise beyond anything that can normally be achieved, you should immediately consume 75 grams to 100 grams of a super man-made glucose polymer in a drink, within a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes of exercise stopping. By doing so you'll increase carbohydrate uptake by a staggering 28%, thus massively decreasing the amount of time that it will take you to recover from the exercise. 

This information comes from a 5 year study by the world renowned Dunn Nutritional institute for research at Cambridge University. 

As discussed above, the first aim directly following intensive exercise is to maximise glycogen replenishment after such a carbohydrate depleting bout of exercise beyond anything that can normally be achieved. Research has indicated that you can increase the glycogen making process by mixing 0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight along with a maltodextrin type recovery drink within 30 minutes of exercise. This would equate to 34 grams of protein if you were to weigh 150 lbs. 

The research reasons that this mixture induces a surge in insulin which accelerates the body’s glycogen making motor by speeding up the movement of glucose and amino acids into the cells, and activating a special enzyme which's crucial to glycogen synthesis. There's also research to show that protein mixed with carbohydrate triggers the release of growth hormone and insulin, which are both conducive to growth and recovery.

Provided that you implement the Dunn Nutritional institute recommendations first, and immediately consume 75 grams to 100 grams of a super man-made glucose polymer in a drink, within a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes of exercise stopping, adding a second carbohydrate drink with the addition of the protein after about 20 minutes won't have a detrimental effect. Given that there are no detrimental effects, and given the possible gains of this second drink, this practice would seem prudent even though not yet proven as fact.

• 50 grams to 70 grams (2 oz to 3 oz) of moderate to high glycaemic carbohydrate should then be consumed every 2 hours for a total of 500 grams.

• Always continue to take plenty of fluid after exercise, as once training has ceased, more blood will now be available again to go to the intestines to enhance water absorption, hence accelerating the replenishment of vital electrolytes and therefore facilitating the maximum amount of nutrients and waste products to and from the cells via the fluid environment.

Ensure that you use the same type of drink that you used during training, the same amount that was calculated specifically for you, and at the same intervals. Realistically you can only expect to keep this regime up for the first hour or so after training. Beyond this you should keep drinking as often as possible.

Practical Advice – What Not To Do:

• Avoid alcohol at all costs during the recovery period after a training session. If you don't possess the will power to do this one simple thing, then you may as well quit whatever it is you are training for. You may quote the fact that there are plenty of Premier league footballers who drink after a match and their on around £30.000 a week. All I can say's that these people aren't under my control. If they were, they would be on the bench without pay until they re discovered the one simple truth. These people are incredibly lucky to be earning such vasts amounts of money doing something they are passionate about. Most of the rest of us would love to be earning £30.000 every year, never mind every week !

• Avoid caffeine, high fat, processed convenience foods.

The Pre Bedtime Schedule:

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• The vast majority of muscle repair occurs at night during deep orthodox sleep following 5 full cycles of deep orthodox sleep. Deep orthodox sleep occurs 4 to 5 times a night at most, and lasts only 20 minutes. The average person goes into deep orthodox sleep 3 times. The fantastic feeling of a good night’s sleep comes when you go into deep orthodox sleep 4 to 5 times. Therefore, muscles are only fully repaired after two nights sleep.

As a result, drinking 50 grams to 70 grams of the super man-made glucose polymer mixed with a high quality protein shake about a half an hour before going to sleep will help ensure that you minimise carbohydrate loss in the muscles whilst helping to maximise muscle repair. If consuming 50 grams to 70 grams of the super man-made glucose polymer interferes with your regular sleeping pattern, lower this dosage until your sleeping pattern returns to normal.

Alternately you can have a chicken sandwich on white bread made only from real chicken breast.

** CAUTION - DON'T FALL FOUL OF DRUGS OR BANNED SUBSTANCES **

BEFORE DECIDING TO TRY ANY FORM OF SUPPLEMENTATION OR NATURAL PERFORMANCE ENHANCING SUPPLEMENTS YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST CHECK WITH THE F.A. ( OR YOUR CLUB DOCTOR ) AND ALL OTHER FOOTBALLING AUTHORITIES. 

Thank you for your time.

Slim.