Soccer Hydration: Tips to Improve Performance and Recovery

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

How do you stay properly hydrated as a soccer player? Proper hydration is just as important as proper nutrition and soccer players who want to reach peak performance, improve recovery, and reduce the risk of injury have to focus on improving these two aspects of their life.

Soccer players are constantly looking for the next training equipment or training trend to help improve their performance and sometimes don’t realize that improving fundamental aspects of performance, such as hydration, is the key to becoming a better player.

In this blog, I will explain the importance of proper hydration and how to properly hydrate as a soccer player.

soccer hydration

The Importance of Hydration for Soccer Players

Hydration plays a huge role in a soccer player’s performance and recovery, because of its relation with the mitochondria, which are the literal batteries of all of your cells that enhance energy production and cellular repair.

Here are some of the many benefits of maintaining proper hydration levels.

Aids Physiological Functions

Water is a fundamental component in various physiological functions, including electrolyte balance, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, fluid balance, and supporting metabolic reactions. It plays a vital role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients as well as supporting the detoxification process to help prevent the buildup of toxins in the body.

Increase endurance:

Proper hydration is a critical factor in enhancing endurance for soccer players. The more hydrated a player is, the better physical and mental performance they will have.

Faster recovery:

Hydration also plays a huge role in recovery and adequate fluid intake helps deliver essential nutrients to the muscles and fascia of your body, promoting quicker recovery.

Better body temperature control

Hydration also helps with thermoregulation by promoting effective sweating, which helps dissipate heat during physical activity. Adequate fluid intake prevents the risk of overheating and heat-related illnesses while contributing to sustained energy levels.

Nerve Function:

Proper hydration is also linked with better nerve signaling and cognitive function. Your nerves require water to be able to properly conduct the electric signal within your body.

.soccer hydrationImage by Unsplash+

Proper Hydration Myths

Before I start talking about hydration tips, it is important to discuss some common hydration myths that give aspiring soccer players, and all athletes in general, a false perception of what real hydration is at the cellular level.

Water is Hydrating: False

Drinking a lot of water may sound like the most logical way to stay hydrated since our body is mainly made of water, but that is not the case. As odd as this sounds, you cannot expect to drink a lot of water and become hydrated.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of being thirsty and drinking a ton of water, yet no matter how much water you drink, you still feel thirsty? This is because water itself does not hydrate you; it is the minerals, or electrolytes, inside the water that help your body feel hydrated, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Think of these minerals, or electrolytes, as spark plugs. When you drink them, they help “light up” your body by taking care of essential physiological processes and making sure they’re carried out correctly.

If you drink water with no electrolytes, such as tap or distilled water, you are diluting your cells, meaning you will get more water into the cell, but no electrolytes. You’re just adding water to your body with no real value.

Remember, more water does not always mean more hydration; it is more about the quality of the water and the electrolytes in the water that hydrates.

All Water is the same: False

When talking about water, I also have to discuss the different phases of water. The water inside living humans is unlike the three phases most people are familiar with solid, liquid, and gas.

This water inside living organisms, living foods, and “living” bodies of water, is called the Fourth Phase of Water (also known as Exclusion Zone water (EZ) or structured water), which means it is not any of the other three phases.

EZ water is more like a liquid gel or crystal found around the surfaces of hydrophilic, water-attracting, substances, like specific molecules in living tissues. This unique water also helps create a battery-like electrical system in the body that can give you energy, act as a messaging system, and help keep you hydrated.

This topic should be taught in schools and to the general public because it is mindblowing once you understand that water has a unique Fourth Phase that only becomes structured inside living organisms like us. When you look at structured water under a microscope it is arranged in honeycomb like patterns, showing the amazing patterns found throughout nature.

Mainstream Sports Drinks are Good for You: False

Mainstream sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are commonly marketed as good hydration drinks and they even have deals with some of the biggest athletes in the world.

However, aspiring players must realize that these ads are marketing gimmicks. Most of the time, these companies, which do not have your health’s best interests at heart, pay these professional soccer players so much money to be part of their ads to make it seem like they’re associated with their products. Do not fall for these tricks.

While sports drinks do contain some electrolytes, they also have a lot of things your body does not want or need such as a high sugar content, artificial ingredients, and they can get pricey over time. Sports drinks are basically soda with added electrolytes and they are not good for you at all.

soccer hydrationImage by Source

Hydration Strategies and Tips

Now that you are more familiar with water and hydration let’s discuss good hydration practices.

Foods to Consume to Maintain Proper Hydration Status

As a footballer, you want to consume food that contains the same structured water, or Fourth Phase of water, that is found inside your cells. The types of foods and drinks that contain EZ water or structured water are raw and “alive” foods like

  • Fresh local fruits
  • vegetable juices
  • spring water
  • raw meats and fish
  • raw eggs
  • raw dairy
    • Such as Raw Milk, which is what Erling Haaland is drinking in image above
    • RAW Farm is an awesome brand
  • raw honey

These foods should be a priority, and it might sound odd to suggest eating foods to stay hydrated, instead of drinking fluids, but remember that it is not just the water that hydrates; it’s the type of water you drink and its electrolyte content that really matters.

As you incorporate more of these healthy, structured foods and snacks into your daily routines, you will find that you will be more hydrated without having to drink as much water because these foods already have the water and everything else necessary to keep you hydrated. For example, watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges are full of water, which is why you feel refreshed after eating fruit.

I’m currently at the point where, daily, I consume raw eggs, raw fish, raw honey, raw dairy, vegetable juices, fruits, and spring water, but have not eaten raw meat yet, and I feel amazing and hydrated all day long. Do your own research about the benefits of eating raw foods and if you’re ready you can try it.

The food industry makes it seem like these foods are bad for you, but these foods are the only real foods left. About 95% of food in most grocery stores did not even exist 200 years ago which is why it makes sense to eat foods that have been around the longest. The easiest way to start is with raw eggs, like Rocky, and with fish, like sushi. Also fruits and vegetable juices are essential.

Water Sourcing and Storage

Another thing to mention is to avoid tap water, avoid all plastic water bottles, and ideally, only drink natural spring water stored in a glass. This may sound very extra, but sourcing and storing your water is crucial.

How Much Water to Drink to Properly Hydrate

Generally, it is hard to suggest how much water to drink daily, and some water intake recommendations may not work because hydration will vary from person to person depending on an individual’s mitochondrial function and how much hydration the food they consume provides.

As I mentioned before, the more you learn how to hydrate yourself properly, and the more you experience the benefits of hydrating with foods and improving your mitochondrial function, the better you will intuitively know how much water your body wants. Do your best to drink as much water as you feel your body needs.

As a rule of thumb, eat healthy, eat foods that hydrate, and drink natural spring water when you are thirsty.

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Best Sports Drink Alternatives

Instead of consuming a sugary sports drink loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives, aspiring soccer players should first focus on fixing their nutrition by eating foods that contain structured water, and improving mitochondria function, which is best done by living a natural lifestyle.

Once you have done this, it is time to consider electrolyte supplements or alternatives to sports drinks, which can aid in hydration before, during, and after a training session or a soccer match.

Homemade Electrolyte Drink

Creating your own electrolyte drink allows you to control the ingredients and make the drink exactly how you like it.

Here’s a simple ingredients list and recipe for a homemade electrolyte drink:

  • Coconut water
  • Spring water
  • Lime Juice
  • sea salt
  • raw honey or maple syrup

Instructions:

  • Mix the spring water, coconut water, sea salt, and lemon in a pitcher.
  • Stir well until the salt and ingredients are mixed and fully dissolved.
  • Add the honey or maple syrup and stir until it’s evenly distributed.

This is just a starter recipe, so feel free to customize it if you want, and after you are done, you can also fill the drink with fruits such as oranges, strawberries, cucumbers, or anything else.

Redmond Relyte

Investing in a good electrolyte supplement can be beneficial if you are looking for a faster but healthier alternative to sports drinks compared to making your own drink. This Re-Lyte Hydration Powder, made with real Redmond Sea Salt, is the best natural electrolyte powder mix I have tried.

They have a variety of flavors, so you can find one that you like best, and they also have flavorless electrolytes, which will be the cleanest source of electrolytes. Some people may find it too salty, but I think it tastes great.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, has an entire section dedicated to proper hydration guidelines.

What are the effects of dehydration?

Dehydration, even mild dehydration has a lot of negative effects such as

  • Decreased skill performance
  • Decreased mental and physical performance
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Increase in muscle cramps due to no electrolyte and fluid replacement

How do you check pre-game hydration status?

To check pre game hydration status you have to check your urine color. If your urine is dark yellow that mostly means you are dehydrated and if it’s clear that means you are more likely hydrated.

Certain foods and supplements can cause your urine color to change so it is important to be aware of that. The best way of staying hydrated is by following the tips on this guide.

What should a soccer player diet consist of?

A soccer player’s diet should consist of local fruits and vegetables, high quality carbs, healthy fats, high quality protein, spring water, raw honey, and raw dairy if you can tolerate it. Check out this blog to find out what to eat before a soccer game.

Conclusion

In conclusion, proper hydration is important for all soccer players, from youth players all the way up to elite professional soccer players. Proper hydration goes along with proper sports nutrition and these are two of the most important aspects to “train” and improve daily, along with sleep and athletic training, for optimal performance on the field and for faster recovery off the field.

In this blog, I covered everything you need to know about the importance of hydration. I broke down some hydration myths, and provided you with hydration tips that you can start using today. Remember, to improve your chances of making your soccer dreams a reality you have to take care of every aspect of your life that affects performance and this includes hydration levels.

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