Football today is more intense and quicker than ever before, meaning a players top speed has become one of the most significant factors in the game. Last season Mo Salah hit a top speed of 36.6km/h1 on the pitch, whilst Erling Haaland was recorded covering 60m of turf in just 6.64 seconds2 which was just 0.3 seconds off the world record pace!
While nutrition alone might not see you clocking the same speeds as the fastest players in the Premier League ®, alongside sprint training it can help unlock power and acceleration that you didn’t know you had.
In this article we look at the scientific research behind nutrition and sprint speed, and explain how our market-leading football supplements enhance the speed performance of players from Sunday league to the Premier League ®.
Energy Gels for Running Performance
Energy gels are small packets of fuel for your body. They provide the energy your body needs to fuel the intense actions performed in football, from sudden direction changes to jumping, shooting, and, of course, sprinting.
Carbohydrate energy gels are one of the most common supplements used by professional footballers, and for good reason. When consumed throughout a match they have been shown to increase repeat-sprint ability by a massive 45%3, meaning you can run harder for longer!
That’s why we have worked with leading football nutritionists to develop our Fuel90® Energy & Electrolyte Gels which combine 28g of our elite dual-source 3:1 ratio carbohydrate, for a lightning-fast release of energy, with 380mg of electrolytes, which keep your muscles performing at peak for longer.
Caffeine and Beta-Alanine
If you want to double down on increasing your sprinting capabilities, one of the best options may be to find a caffeinated energy gel. Studies have found that taking caffeine an hour before kick off can increase sprint duration by up to 35%4. In simple terms, caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, reducing the sensation of fatigue, whilst increasing alertness and focus, ensuring you remain sharp and ready for that game defining moment.
You can find out more about how caffeine aids performance here.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that the body produces naturally. However, a study found a 34.3% increase in repeat-sprint performance after a course of beta-alanine consumption5, further helping you to run harder for longer.
You can find more about on how beta-alanine aids performance here.
Our Focus90 Caffeinated Energy Gels were also developed with world world-class nutritionists from Premier League® clubs, and contain a powerful blend of 200mg caffeine, 3g beta-alanine, and 6g citrulline malate, along with over 20g of our dual carbohydrate formula to boost your performance from the first whistle to the last.
Before we discuss the benefits of nitrates for sprint performance, let’s explain what nitrates are. Nitrates are natural chemicals that are found in high quantities in certain fruits and vegetables, including spinach, rhubarb, and beetroot.
Without getting too technical, consuming nitrates helps maintain nitric oxide levels in the body, contributing to improved blood flow and reduced blood pressure. This is thought to improve muscle efficiency by reducing the oxygen cost of exercise, meaning that you can perform for longer with reduced levels of fatigue.
One study found a 3.5% improvement in repeat sprint ability following daily nitrate consumption6. To make nitrates an easy part of your daily routine we’ve developed our nitrate shots, alongside Premier League® nutritionists, to provide 400mg of nitrates from three sources, and supply 100% of your daily recommended vitamin C.
Recovery and Sprint Speed
Post-match recovery is an often overlooked part of a footballer’s diet, but it is crucial if you want to perform your best week after week. In fact, one study found that players who consumed a post match recovery drink saw a subsequent improvement of 39% in high intensity running compared to those not taking on nutrients for recovery7.
Our recovery protein blend, Recover90®, is a precise formula of whey protein isolate, carbohydrate, and electrolytes, and has been developed alongside top professional footballers to provide everything you need to rehydrate, replenish energy levels, and repair tired muscles.
At the beginning of this article we mentioned that supplements alone might not have you keeping pace with the likes of Mo Salah and Erling Haaland, but the difference they provide may help you to gain the edge over that rogue striker, or connect with that loose ball for a last-minute winner, meaning they play a crucial role in helping you to #UPYOURGAME.
3. 43 g/h carbs (Patterson et al., 2007)
4. 6 mg/kg caffeine, 60 min before (Apostolidis et al., 2020)
5. 3.2 g/day for 12 weeks (Saunders et al., 2012)
6. ~800 mg/day nitrate for 7 days (Thompson et al., 2015)
7. 4.8% CHO + 2.1% PRO (Alghannam, 2011)