Table 3

Nutritional strategies for recovery (from the end of the match to MD+2)

Until 2–4 hours after the match24 and 48 hours after the match
(MD+1 and MD+2)
In congested calendars
(48–72 hours interval between matches)
Nutrition
goals
Assure players ingest enough fast absorption CHO, according to recommendations (1 g/kg/hour in the first 2–4 hours after the end of the match).73Assure players ingest enough CHO (6–8 g/kg/day) to keep muscle glycogen storing and prevent weight gain.4Assure higher CHO intake (6–10 g/kg/day).84
Ensure 20–40 g of easily digestible, leucine-rich protein for muscle repair and adaptation.50Ensure 1.6 g/kg/day of protein intake throughout the day.50Ensure 1.6–2.0 g/kg/day of protein throughout the day.50
Since it can impair nutrients absorption and retard stomach emptying, fat intake should be reduced after the match.Maintain regular intake of fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals, accordingly with EFSA DRVs.19
Vitamins with antioxidant activity (A, C, E) may play a role in acute recovery.80
Rehydrate with 1.5 L of fluids per 1 kg weight lost (beverage with 0.46–1.15 g of Na/L).96
Caffeine (3–4 mg/kg)129 and creatine (5 g)50 may be used to accelerate muscle glycogen synthesis.
Tart cherry supplementation can contribute to improving sleep quality, particularly after intense exercise.77 78
Practical
strategies
Consider different feeding opportunities (stadium, bus/plane, club/home), depending on match time.
Attend individual preferences, so players can easily ingest required nutrients for faster recovery.
Display several easy digestible, low-fibre, fast absorbed CHO options (gels, sports drinks, bars, fruit/fruit smoothies, rice cakes, white rice, sweet potato, white bread).
Prefer lean protein sources, rich in essential amino acids, including 2.5–3.5 g of leucine (~100 g of chicken/turkey breast or lean veal beef, two to three egg whites, 125 g of low-fat white cheese, one to two tuna cans, whey shakes with ~25 g of protein).
Depending on match time, caffeine use can be considered (if not impairing sleep or rest).
Include 3 to 5 g creatine supplement in post-match recovery meal (pill, unflavoured powder, recovery drink).
Provide 30 mL of tart cherry concentrate after the match for players undergoing continuous supplementation.
Include several types of CHO sources in every meal (bread, cereals, rice, pasta, potato, cuscus, legumes).
Distribute CHO intake for 4–5 meals/day.
Distribute protein intake in 4–5 meals per day, assuring 10–40 g of protein per meal. If necessary, choose from a variety of protein sources, combining different sources for a better amino acids profile. Prefer lean protein sources, rich in essential amino acids (chicken/turkey breast, lean veal beef, egg whites, low-fat white cheese, canned tuna, whey protein shakes).
Offer Ω3 rich options (fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds).
Cooking methods should be simple (boiled, steamed, grilled), and salad dressings, toppings, or sauces must be reduced.
Include various fruits and veggies in every buffet, offering different coloured options (greens, yellows, reds, purples).
Include berries, broccoli and other antioxidant-rich options.
Monitor hydration status:
Measure Usg, using reagent sticks;
assess Ucol, using colour charts.
Evaluate climate conditions and establish hydration strategies:
Easy access to water sources in every moment (lockers, pitch, during travelling, hotel room, meals);
Individual bottles, so players can be aware of their intake;
Provide other hydration options, considering personal preferences of players (isotonic/sports drinks, tea and herbal infusions, water-rich foods).
For regular users, offer caffeine sources at breakfast, after lunch or training (coffee, black tea, caffeinated drinks or gels). Avoid or limit caffeine sources from dinner time.
Keep regular creatine intake in players’ undergoing supplementation.
Provide 30 mL of tart cherry concentrate after the match for players undergoing supplementation for at least 7 days.
  • CHO, carbohydrates; DRV, dietary reference values; EFSA, European Food Safety Authority; MD, match-day.