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How to fuel your body for an early kick-off

Pre-match meal
The majority of amateur football matches are played at a weekend, with an early kick-off ranging from 10:30am to 1pm. This creates a nutritional challenge compared to later starts and weekday matches that normally occur at the end of the working day.

Your evening meal the night before the game is crucial to load up your carbohydrate stores, which are the main source of energy during a football match. Consume 1-4 g of carbohydrate per kilo of your body mass, along with moderate protein and vegetables. For a 70 kg player, this would be 70 – 280 g of carbohydrate.

If you have a morning kick-off, breakfast will be your pre-match meal. You lose some of your carbohydrate stores when you sleep, so it is important to consume a carbohydrate-based breakfast two to three hours before your game. Again, aim for 1-4 g of easily digestible carbohydrate per kilo of your body mass.

A simple way to find out if you are well hydrated is to check the colour and volume of your urine. If it is pale and plentiful then you are probably well hydrated (aim for lemonade colour); if it is dark (think apple juice colour) and low in volume then chances are you are slightly dehydrated. Note, if you’re consuming large amounts of B vitamins or certain foods (e.g beetroot) they can affect the colour of your urine.

Solution: GO Hydro
Ensuring you’re hydrated before a game is critical to maximise performance. GO Hydro contains key electrolytes like sodium, which increase fluid absorption and retention, preventing excessive urinary volume. Consuming one the evening before a game and one in the 1-3 hours before a game will help hydrate you effectively. Guidelines suggest taking 5-10 ml of fluid per kilo of body mass. For a 70kg player, this means taking on 350 – 700 ml in the hours before a game.

Warm up
More than likely, you will arrive at the pitch 60-90 minutes before kick-off. If you begin warming up 45 minutes before you play, this may be your last chance to take on fuel. Follow these warm- up nutrition guidelines and increase your energy, alertness and concentration for the match ahead.

  1. 500ml GO Electrolyte – consume this throughout the warm up to help provide both carbohydrate for energy and sodium/fluid for hydration
  2. GO Energy + Caffeine gel or GO caffeine shot – take one around 30 minutes before kick-off. Caffeine helps decrease the perception of fatigue, providing mental stimulation. Ideal for any player looking for a boost.During the game
    Due to the nature of the game, it is difficult to take on fluid and energy during the match. However, you can make it easier for yourself by placing a bottle of GO Electrolyte on your side of the pitch, if you are playing on the wing for example. Take advantage of natural breaks in the game to take on fluids.Half-time
    During half time, you have 15 minutes to refuel and prepare for the final 45 minutes. After the first half, your carbohydrate stores will be over half way depleted, even if you prepared well. It is crucial that you take on energy and fluids during this time. A common mistake made by footballers during half time is to consume a full energy drink and eat high sugar sweets. While this may provide energy, this will take time to digest and may cause gastrointestinal distress when you start the second half. Below are some half time options to help provide sufficient energy, fluids and electrolytes.Option 1:250 ml GO Electrolyte 

    1* GO Isotonic Energy Gel/ Caffeine Gel


    Option 2:

    500 ml GO Electrolyte

    1* GO Caffeine Shot

    Option 3:

    250 ml GO Electrolyte

    1* GO Energy bar mini


    Being a substitute can be disappointing and de-motivating, especially when you have prepared for the full 90 minutes. Generally, you will prepare to come on in the second half. However, if injury strikes, you may be on earlier. Sip a GO Electrolyte throughout the first half. Half time is an ideal time to take on a GO Caffeine shot to prepare you to come on and make a difference.

    Sore muscles in the hours and days after a game are common at whatever level you play at. Although nutrition can’t prevent the pain of knocks of bruises, it can help you adapt to the demands of the game and help you feel better sooner. Follow these nutrition tips to help accelerate the recovery and rebuild process:

    • Your metabolism stays lifted for around 30 mins –2 hours post-exercise, so consume REGO Rapid Recovery Plus within 30 minutes of finishing.
    • Consume a full meal within 1-2 hours of finishing. Good choices include lean meats, high GI carbohydrates (e.g breads, rices and pastas) with plenty of vegetables.
    • In the hours post game, aim to take on 150% of the fluid lost through sweating. Work this out by weighing yourself pre and post-game, or estimate this by weighing yourself pre and post training session under similar conditions. Electrolyte solutions like Immune and GO Hydro can help the body absorb and retain the fluid more effectively.
    • Finally, make sure you get a good night sleep to allow adaptations to take place.
Written By

Professor James Morton

A professor of Exercise Metabolism at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and a Registered Sports and Exercise Nutrition Practitioner with the British Dietetic Association’s UK Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr), James is responsible for research and innovation at Science in Sport, overseeing the Performance Solutions Team.