The world of sports is ever-evolving and moving at a rapid pace. COVID had halted some projects, but now the initiatives are growing.
An athlete is the most critical stakeholder in the sports ecosystem. And to enhance their performance, billions of dollars get invested into sports science, nutrition, medicine, physiotherapy, strength, and conditioning. There are innumerable things to talk about, but today we chose to address a specific topic in nutrition.
An athlete’s on-field performance is a byproduct of their off-the-field activities. The training routine is just one component, and there are other factors such as food consumption, fluids, and sleep.
One of the critical indicators of fitness is bodily hydration—the more hydrated, the better. Athletes, in general, sweat much more than untrained people. And when the body gets heated and releases sweat, it causes fatigue, dehydration, and muscle cramp symptoms. The body also loses fluids and electrolytes.
Training and playing create friction and produce heat throughout the day. When our body gets overheated, the nervous system stimulates sweat glands to perspire to balance body temperature. It is a cooling mechanism by the brain to keep its functions in check.
The intensity of sweating is a result of balance in electrolytes.
But wait. What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes refer to minerals that produce electrically charged ions when dissolved in fluids. The main electrolytes in our body include Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Chloride.
Electrolytes balance muscle contraction, fluid retention, heart function, water balance, and other crucial functions of the body. The imbalance of electrolytes slows down the body and negates outcomes.
Let’s understand through an example. For instance, you are calling your cousin, who is in the Himalayas. You connect the call, but the call drops when you are about to inform about last night’s match. And you couldn’t connect anymore. Understand how it feels? You curse the network for the next few moments.
This is how our body reacts to electrolytes too. Electrolytes are required to signal internal bodily functions and contribute to performance outside. Right electrolyte balance ensures that the network is strong, and you maximize outcomes from your desired actions.
Footballers need balanced electrolytes intake to maintain performance
Football is a high-intensity sport. Often, professional athletes are seen going to the sidelines and grabbing a bottle of sports drink. If you look at the recent changes to the game, water breaks are now a norm. A major reason is injecting electrolytes to improve athletic performance.
However, there is a system to consume electrolytes, and it’s not like injecting electrolytes into the body whenever you sweat or feel sweat-related symptoms.
“Consuming electrolyte products like drinks and salty snacks 60-80 minutes before a session or match enhances bodily functions. During the session, one must consume an electrolyte drink low on sugar and alternate it with water. After the session, an athlete must consume salty food and sports drinks to help rehydrate the body and recover,” said Akshay Unni, a senior coach of Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools (BBFS).
“The consumption of fluids for an athlete depends on their individual needs. The body mass index and food habits are crucial to deciding the amount of consumption. Generally, an Indian footballer on off days must consume 4 liters of water which can go up to 5 to 5.5 liters on matchdays. To increase electrolyte intakes, a student-athlete must consume coconut water, sports drinks like electral, Gatorade, and glucose,” said Anup Singh, a grassroots expert and coach educator of BBFS.
Footballers must focus on their nutritional intake. Because training solely cannot take an athlete to their desired levels. So, consider these factors the next time you feel tired or low on motivation on the pitch. It is critical to enhancing your football journey.
See you next week!
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