T Nation

Drink During Game

What should soccer players drink during a game? Water or a sports drink?

I prefer a mixture of water and a sports drink.

Which sports drink? Some of them are crap, and you’d actually be better off drinking water. Usually, however, you can get better short-term performance out of the carb boost and insulin spike you get from a sports drink.

Many people will recommend you take some Surge. I’m still evaluating whether Surge is doing much for my workouts, and that doesn’t translate 100% to what it would do for athletic performance, so I can’t say much about that. But the science behind it seems sound, and I doubt it would hurt.

From what I have soaked up over the last several years from multiple sources, it appears that a dilute solution of dextrose, sucrose, and fructose with a whey hydrolysate or isolate can help keep an athlete not only hydrated but can help sustain max output. This solution (with a 2-3:1 ratio of carbs to protein) would probably not help bouts of exercise 45 minutes and under, since the body relies on stored glycogen for fuel. In this case this cocktail would mostly help kick-start the recovery process for the next contest or training session.

3 different sugars are recommended as they have different conversion rates which allows a timed-release into the bloodstream. Dextrose has no coversion, sucrose has some, and fructose is the longest.

Typically, the “burn-out” of an athlete is due to depletion of glycogen stores and exercising at higher intensities where fat conversion is too slow to fuel the bout. The liver stores about 90-100 grams of glycogen and 20-25 grams for skeletal muscle. Once these are depleted the athlete will start to fatigue unless the intensity is lowered.

Soccer being a combination of aerobic and anaerobic energy states, protein and simple sugar intake during exercise would probably help greatly and is likely superior to simple sugar alone (Gatorade) and certainly water alone. There are many more factors and theories, but I believe research is pointing to glucose from a variety of simple sugars + quick absorbing protein.

Surge would appear to be close to this during-exercise solution, as long as its dilute enough to not upset the GI.