Post-match regeneration – nutritional strategies


Among the elite sports teams, the number of meetings in the football season can reach up to 70 performances. The crowded schedule contributes to limiting the recovery time to 2 or 4 days. As a result, players may experience acute or chronic fatigue. Disturbing the homeostasis of the body affects the worsening of results or the appearance of injuries.

In the study by Ekstrande et al. (2004), the relationship between the injuries of the players to injury and the scheme of matches (number of games per week) in the month preceding the World Cup was analyzed. It was found that more than 60% of players who played more than one match in the week before the World Cup, fell out less or suffered injuries. Dupton et al. (2010) also showed a strong relationship between the game pattern and performance deterioration and the increased frequency of injury. These analyzes emphasize the importance of introducing comprehensive regeneration, focusing on the identification of fatigue mechanisms.


  1. Characteristics of the discipline and causes of fatigue
  1. Regeneration strategies based on “Football recovery strategies. Practical aspects of blending science and reality “G. Dupota et al.
  1. Alcohol as a factor interfering with regeneration
  1. Practical advice



  1. Characteristics of the discipline and causes of fatigue

Football is considered to be intermittent sports, requiring many interventions such as sprinting, jumps, changing direction, arrows, dribbles, physical contact. The flood of interventions leads to the development of fatigue. The challenge for sports physiologists is to identify fatigue mechanisms after a football match in order to restore the player to pre-match fitness. How long does post-match regeneration last? The answer to this question is very difficult. It depends on many factors, including individual predispositions, position of the player on the pitch, pro-inflammatory factors, hormonal status.

In order to understand the causes of general fatigue, it is worth looking at the individual components. According to Rampinini et al. (2011) fatigue is determined by a combination of central and peripheral factors that appear immediately after the match and a few hours later. Fatigue in the central peripheral system is the main cause of the decrease in maximum contraction capacity and sprints. Peripheral fatigue is associated with increased muscle “soreness”; this phenomenon is combined with muscle damage and inflammation. Muscle damage is characterized by muscle soreness, increased passive stiffness, edema, morphological changes, disruption and disorganization of sarcomeres.

The next element is the “cavities” created during the activity. The decrease in the intensity of sprints is related to the depletion of glycogen resources. Although fatigue only appears at the end of the match, it can have an effect on post-workout fatigue. Dehydration intensifies the feeling of tiredness and loss of intracellular volume contribute to a reduction in the rate of glycogen and protein synthesis.

The last aspect that is worth moving is the “mind” fatigue, which can lead to lack of motivation and mental burnout. A crowded meeting schedule is associated with many trips that lead to disruption of the circadian rhythm (jet lag) – thus increasing the level of stress caused by limited movement and affecting the lower quality of sleep.


  1. Regeneration strategies based on “Football recovery strategies. Practical aspects of blending science and reality “G. Dupota et al.

Supplementing fluids, aligning glycogen resources, providing bricks in the form of protein – these are the elements of key post-treatment regeneration aimed at restoring homeostasis and repairing damaged tissues. Full recovery of the balance of water balance after a football match sometimes takes up hours of happiness. Loss of fluid often accounts for 2% of body weight. For liquids, it is recommended to use drinks containing sodium in an amount exceeding about three times standard commercial sports drinks (61 mmol / l-1). The addition of sodium (500 to 700 mg / 1 liter of water) affects intestinal fluid retention, thirst stimulation, delayed urine production and increased absorption of glucose in the small intestine. Fluid losses should be leveled, assuming 150-200% of lost fluids.

After a high-intensity football game, the time for replenishing glycogen resources is from 2 to 3 days. Lack of special nutritional guidelines among professional players contributes to the equalization of glycogen resources only in 50% before the match. To maximize glycogen resynthesis, 1.2 g of high index carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour should be provided for 5 hours after the match.

Physical activity stimulates the synthesis of muscle mass and breakdown of muscle proteins. Non-delivery of protein during the regeneration period may have a negative impact on the protein balance. The amount, type and time of protein acceptance after the match is subject to constant discussion. One suggestion is that accepting 20 grams of milk proteins containing 9 essential amino acids consumed up to 2 hours after the activity seems sufficient. It is worth noting that a diet containing higher amounts of protein during the training period may affect muscle improvement and subsequent functioning as well as the training cycle.

Some juices such as cherry, tomato or blueberry juice can improve regenerative processes. These juices have a high antioxidant capacity, they reduce the oxidative stress and inflammation. Eating them before and after physical activity can accelerate recovery.


  1. Alcohol as a factor interfering with regeneration

A popular phenomenon among many athletes is the culture of taking alcohol after major sports events. This practice is the norm especially among team sports. It is worth pointing out that regeneration processes begin immediately after the activity. It is widely believed that the first hours are a special role in the regenerative and adaptive process of the body. Taking alcohol at this time may delay regeneration processes. Alcohol increases the amount of urine by inhibiting vasopressin (diuretic hormone), and thus increases the degree of dehydration of the body. Eating it after activity is associated with a decrease in maximum strength within 36 hours after exercise. Alcohol suppresses the anabolic response in the muscles and thus worsens reconstruction and training adaptation. As a consequence, it has a negative effect on the body’s efficiency.


  1. Practical advice

In summary, some regeneration strategies such as hydration, diet, sleep, cold bath, and compression garments can effectively speed up the regeneration process. The most important of them are discussed below.

– the first step in the regeneration process is hydration of the body. Liquids should be leveled in an amount of 150 to 200% of lost fluids – eg for 1 kg of body weight from 1.5 to 2 l of liquids containing sodium from 500 to 700 mg / l of water. In order to propose the right amount of fluids, it is worth measuring the player before and after the activity, and the losses should be compensated.

– the use of cherry juice and regenerative cocktail is aimed at restoring muscle glycogen resources and reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. A milk-based cocktail containing carbohydrates and protein has a positive effect on improving regeneration. It acts to stimulate reconstruction, improve the quality of sleep and its extension.

– cold bath at 12 and 15 ° C for 10-20 minutes accelerates regeneration processes.

– compression clothes.

– intake of a wholesome meal containing carbohydrates, proteins and addition of vegetables. Examples of the main post-match meal are frittata with vegetables and bread, Greek fish with millet, turkey breast with rice and vegetable salad, tomato cream with mozzarella cheese and bread.

– the right amount of sleep.



Duponti et al., Football recovery strategies, Aspetar Sports Medicine Journal 2015.

Posted on: October 16, 2018

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