Even minor dehydration can impair sport performance. During most sport activity the body burns muslce carbohydrate and body fat as glycogen. Recovering from sport should last less than one hour especially if well chosen food is eaten. Salt and fluid loss results from sweating which needs replacing. This links back to that statement even minor dehydration may impair your performance.
To rehydrate properly, sportsmen should drink past the point of thirst. Sip from a drink bottle during breaks in activity and by drinking 200-400mls at “half-time”.
If sport or especially training takes longer than the hour, consuming sports drinks that contain carbohydrates as well as fluids will help stamina and postpone fatigue. This is particularly beneficial during intense exercise in hot weather and when carbohydrate loading is limited.
Substandard recovery after the game can result in decreased energy during the entire week of training. It can even slow down recovery from injury. This is very serious. The number one step to replenishing the musce glycogen stores that have been used is eating a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack within half an hour of finishing exercise. Waiting longer, will result in a delayed recovery.
Examples of appropriate foods include:
- 750ml of a sports drink like powerade or gatorade.
- 500 ml of a fruit drink, 250 ml Fruit Smoothie.
- A honey or banana sandwich.
- 3 pieces of fruit. A fruit bar or muffins.
- Or a bowl of cereal with low fat milk.
The objective is to eat 1-2g of carbohydrate per kg body weight in the two hours after exercise. This is around 50-160g of carbohydrates for most of the population.
Remember, rehydration ahead of thirst maintains performance.