On average, Premier League & Championship footballers run 10km during a game. Over 1,000m of this will often be high intensity running (1). In general, during a full 90-minute match, a player’s heart rate will average at around 85% of its maximum rate. This will equate to a total energy expenditure of over 1,500 calories (2).
With this is mind, Aston Villa know that nutritional preparation has an important effect on the athletic performance of their players, especially towards the end of a match when energy stores are limited.
Preparation Strategy: Carbohydrate Loading
Glycogen is the muscle’s main source of energy. To maximise glycogen stores for a match, Aston Villa players will increase their carbohydrate intake in the 24 hours pre-game to ensure that they enter the game with a full tank. This involves taking on around 8-10g of carbohydrate per kilo of the player's body mass (3). Players will consume high glycaemic (high GI) carbohydrates that can be rapidly digested and absorbed. The day before a game, in training, players will use GO Electrolyte to further increase carbohydrate intake.
Players will start taking on fluid early in the morning when they wake up. It can be difficult to hydrate during the warm-up and the game itself, so hydrateing early is crucial. Players will aim to take in 500ml - 1000ml of fluid before kick-off. GO Hydro contains key electrolytes that help to absorb and retain the fluid, aiding hydration.
Pre match meal
The “pre match meal” is consumed 2-3 hours before kick-off. It’s important that it contains a variety of carbohydrates, vegetables and protein, while also considering individual and cultural preferences. Carbohydrate based foods like pasta, potatoes and wholemeal bread are available, along with cereals and a small amount of protein such as salmon and eggs. GO Energy Bars are on offer as a convenient carbohydrate based solution on game day. Again, GO Hydro tablets are available to ensure the players are taking on fluids and electrolytes.
Players arrive at the stadium 90 minutes before kick-off. They will begin their warm up around 45 minutes before. Generally, this is the last chance to take on fluid and fuel until half time. Players will have GO Electrolyte to hand throughout the warm up. The players will take a caffeine supplement such as a GO Energy + Caffeine Gel or a GO Caffeine Shot an hour before kick-off to increase alertness and concentration for the match ahead (4).
During the game
Due to the nature of the game, it’s difficult for the players to take on fluid and energy during the match. However, Aston Villa staff will always have GO Electrolyte available at the side of the pitch to throw to the players during any natural breaks in play.
During half time, players have 15 minutes to refuel and prepare for the final 45 minutes. After the first half, carbohydrate stores will be considerably depleted (5). It is therefore crucial that the players take on energy and fluids during this time. Players will usually consume a GO Isotonic Energy Gel as soon as they enter the changing room and will drink between 250ml - 500ml of GO Electrolyte throughout half time. This combination provides players with rapidly digesting carbohydrates, along with sufficient fluid and electrolytes to help rehydrate before heading back out.
Being a repeated sprint sport, football is notorious for causing sore muscles the hours and days after a game. Although nutrition cannot prevent the pain of knocks and bruises, it can help players adapt to the demands of the game and prepare for the next training session. Aston Villa players follow a structured recovery nutrition protocol.
- Players will take on REGO Rapid Recovery Plus as soon as they head into the changing room. Containing 24g of protein, 40g of fast digesting carbohydrates and a blend of vitamins and minerals, this is the ideal recovery shake to drink within the first 30-60 minutes post-game.
- Rehydration is an important factor of recovery. Players will aim to replace fluid lost through sweating using GO Hydro tablets alongside other carbohydrate based drinks
- The post-match meal is available in the changing room and contains a variety of high GI carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables. Examples are pittas, wraps, pizzas, wedges and fajitas.
- Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery. Most of the growth and rebuild of muscle, including lean muscle tissue, happens during sleep. Aston Villa players use Overnight Protein to feed a steady stream of amino acids and protein to the muscles - ideal to help tackle muscle breakdown on the night of a game.
- Di Salvo, V., Gregson, W., Atkinson, G., Tordoff, P., & Drust, B. (2009). Analysis of high intensity activity in Premier League soccer. International journal of sports medicine, 30(03), 205-212.
- Bangsbo, J., Iaia, F. M., & Krustrup, P. (2007). Metabolic response and fatigue in soccer. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 2(2), 111-127.
- Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics, dietitians of canada, and the american college of sports medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528.
- Goldstein, E. R., Ziegenfuss, T., Kalman, D., Kreider, R., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., ... & Wildman, R. (2010). International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 5.
- Reilly, T., Drust, B., & Clarke, N. (2008). Muscle fatigue during football match-play. Sports Medicine, 38(5), 357-367.