The Importance of good hydration - My Fit Plan

Fatigue, poor concentration, headaches, cramps, drowsiness and reduced performance. If a drug was advertised to footballers as having this effect you’d hope that they’d avoid it like the plague. However it seems that poor hydration for players is the norm turning up on a Saturday.

In my opinion it’s a case of laziness as opposed to a lack of knowledge, the pee test is common and everyone knows how to check. If you don’t then I apologise and here is the chart outlining what your urine should look like prior to performance.

As a general rule the lighter the better excluding cases of medication effecting urine colour.

Dehydration is inexcusable however near perfect hydration is what we want so that’s what I’ll talk about. Ignoring the laziness of simply not drinking enough I want to give you an insight into exactly what we advise in terms of electrolyte drinks and hydration in the build-up to performance.

Primarily sipping to thirst simply isn’t adequate for good hydration and by that stage it’s usually too late. Looking for a litre or two on waking and then consistently sipping throughout the morning without going overboard is a pretty good place to start obviously monitoring your pee throughout.

The confusion with caffeine ingestion through coffee completely dehydrating you is again a naïve one and I personally love a good coffee on the way to a game. Although true that caffeine is a diuretic it doesn’t mean that you will be losing more fluid than you’ll be taking in so this isn’t a concern as long as again your hydration through other sources is a good.

A common problem that I do see however is the over reliance on electrolyte drinks packed with sugar. The need for electrolytes is present especially during games when you will be losing a lot through sweat however the need for the surprisingly high amounts of sugar in these drinks simply isn’t there and will likely lead to spikes and troughs in blood sugar and insulin secretion when consuming substantial amounts. I personally like to leave any drinks like this until the warm up or really close to the game sipping along.

Another fantastic way of getting some electrolytes in is simply making up your own version. Whack some water, a pinch of salt, some honey/lemon juice and maybe some pomegranate/beetroot juice for blood flow if you so wish and you have a perfectly adequate electrolyte drink of your own. Although agreed it may not be optimal you’ll be saving yourself a good amount of money and you won’t have to worry about excessive sugar consumption as long as you’re controlling the amount of honey you put in there.

Hydration post performance is going to have huge effects on recovery and removal of waste products. Pee tests are great but also another pretty solid form of assessing how much you need to drink is weighing yourself before and after your exercise. For every 1kg lost it’s at least 1l of water although shooting for 1.5l per kg won’t do you any harm.

It really is an amazingly simple concept however one that gets neglected on a far too regular basis. If you want optimal performance then hydration will always be key. The science behind sports drinks is ever progressing and although new formulas are often being developed for optimal performance the results you’ll see will be extremely marginal gains, concentrate on these few key principles first.

I hope it’s helped, short, sweet and to the point was the aim. Any questions get in touch.


Good luck this weekend.