From muddy local training grounds to the biggest stadiums in the world, energy gels and energy drinks are a staple of modern football – and for good reason.
While nothing can replace a balanced diet, good hydration and plenty of recovery, incorporating quality energy gels and drinks into your matchday routine can be a gamechanger.
However, take these important supplements at the wrong time or for the wrong reason and you won’t feel the benefits. In this article we run you through everything you need to know about energy gels and drinks, and how to get the best from them.
Firstly – what are they?
Most of us will have seen an energy drink, which typically comes as either a pre-made liquid in bottles or as a powder for you to mix to your own liking.
Energy gels are a slightly newer creation. They don’t require water, which is ideal if you don’t want that sloshy feeling in your stomach. These gels come in convenient squeezy packs and are ready to go – no mixing, no fuss.
Both drinks and gels have the prime purpose of delivering fast energy before and during exercise. This comes in the form of an easily-absorbed carbohydrate source – sometimes two sources, which is always a better option.
Now, anyone who laces up their boots on a Saturday afternoon will know how important an instant energy boost can be. This may be because we haven’t eaten or slept as well as we perhaps should have, or simply because we need a bit of a boost before or during an important match.
Football is hard work. The average outfield player will run 12km during 90 minutes on the field, depleting up to 90% of their muscle carbohydrate stores. Having the option to take onboard some fast-acting carbohydrates is therefore vital in the demanding modern game, even at Sunday League level.
Energy drinks and gels feature the carbohydrates that will keep the glycogen levels in your muscles topped up, allowing you to run, jump and jostle until the final whistle. In addition, some gels and drinks will also offer additional ingredients to give you the edge in other ways.
We can’t speak for every energy gel on the market, but Soccer Supplement® offers two unique gels formulated specifically for footballers – both with their own sets of advantages.
First is our Focus90, which is a highly-rated pre-match energy gel loaded with three key ingredients to boost physical performance and focus. This trio comprises caffeine (for enhanced endurance and concentration), citrulline malate (which can help increase blood flow and oxygen circulation), and beta-alanine (that can expand your exercise capacity and lower your chance of muscle fatigue).
Our other popular energy gel is Fuel90, that combines a footballer-focused blend of fast-acting carbohydrates along with 380mg of electrolytes. This dose of electrolytes keeps your body full of the minerals it requires to perform for the 90, while also helping to prevent muscle cramps.
While we are advocates of energy gels and energy drinks, they are always best used as part of a more complete matchday routine. In other words, you shouldn’t be reaching for an energy gel for breakfast.
For optimum performance, it is essential to live a healthy lifestyle through the week and nail your pre-match nutrition. No energy gel can make up for a week of late nights and skipped meals. Eating proper meals in the 48 hours leading up to the match is essential. This will allow energy drinks and gels to do their job of giving you the advantage. You can read more about this in our guide to Sunday League match preparation.
Having eaten well in the days and hours before, you can unleash the power of your energy supplements in the immediate build up to the match and at half time.
Both Focus90 and Fuel90 gels can be taken 30 minutes before kick-off. However, if you are planning on using both together, try taking Focus90 to boost your concentration before kick-off, then Fuel90 at half time to keep you fighting fit into the end of the match.
Considering that so many goals are scored in the last 15 minutes, this could make the difference between winning and losing!
If you prefer a liquid boost that combines both energy and hydration, our Hydrate90 powder mixed with water delivers a dual-carbohydrate formula that is absorbed up to 40% faster than some other drinks.
Try them yourself and see what all the fuss is about!