Given the demands of football training and match play, the aim of creatine supplementation would be to:
1. Enhance repeated-sprinting ability
2. Improve football-specific skills (e.g. dribbling; jumping; passing; shooting)
3. Enhance cognitive ability (e.g. decision making; passing accuracy)
Injuries are an inescapable aspect of football at any level, with recent evidence suggesting that half of all injuries are severe enough to result in three or more weeks of missed training and matches.1 Muscle and tendon injuries of the lower extremities are the most common injury type in professional players.2,3
Injuries that result in immobilisation and/or reduced training, tend to have two main stages:
- Healing and recovery stage. Right after injury, wound healing begins. This complex process involves three phases: inflammation, proliferation, and remodelling.4
- The return to activity. This stage typically consists of rehabilitation and increased activity.
Given the nature of these stages, effect nutrition support can be crucial to speeding up the recovery process and reducing the negative aspects of reduced activity such as muscle and strength losses. The best nutritional practises for these stages are outlined below.
Healing and recovery Stage
- An inflammatory response occurs soon after injury, which initiates several processes that are crucial for wound healing. Contrary to the popular practise of popping ibuprofens and taking antioxidants to try and control inflammation, the best practise is to leave these well alone, since most injuries aren’t severe enough for inflammation to be an issue.
- Energy balance should be maintained. That is, the number of calories ingested should match expenditure, resulting in a maintenance of body mass. A negative energy balance will slow rates of wound healing.
The Return to Activity
- Disuse of a limb results in losses of muscle mass, strength, and function. Such losses start to occur in as little as 36 hours, with substantial losses occurring in just five days.5
- Daily protein intakes of 2-2.5g per kilogram of body mass are recommended to maintain muscle mass.4 This intake should be evenly split across 4-5 meals per day to maximise rates of muscle protein synthesis (i.e. the building of new muscle).
- Again, energy balance should be maintained, since a negative energy balance will likely result in muscle loss during immobilisation.6 Equally, a positive energy balance would be problematic, as it would cause unnecessary fat gain that will need to be shifted before returning to competition.
- A daily dose of 5g of creatine monohydrate may help speed up the recovery strength losses of immobilised limbs.7
- A few days following injury, omega-3 fish oil supplementation is a good idea. Taking 1.8-3g of combined EPA/DHA (the equivalent to 6-10 standard fish oils capsules) every day may help with maintaining muscle mass by sensitising the injured muscle to incoming amino acids.8,9
- Finally, recent research has shown that a mixture of gelatin and vitamin C can improve collagen synthesis; a key component of soft tissue repair.10 Daily doses of 15g and 200mg of gelatin and vitamin C, respectively, are recommended.
For more information on our IR90® Injury Recovery formula please see here.
1. Volpi, P. & Taioli, E. The health profile of professional soccer players: future opportunities for injury prevention. J. Strength Cond. Res. 26, 3473–9 (2012).
2. Hägglund, M., Walden, M. & Ekstrand, J. Risk Factors for Lower Extremity Muscle Injury in Professional Soccer: The UEFA Injury Study. Am. J. Sports Med. 41, 327–335 (2013).
3. Stubbe, J. H. et al. Injuries in professional male soccer players in the Netherlands: A prospective cohort study. J. Athl. Train. 50, 211–216 (2015).
4. Tipton, K. D. Nutritional Support for Exercise-Induced Injuries. Sports Medicine 45, 93–104 (2015).
5. Wall, B. T. et al. Substantial skeletal muscle loss occurs during only 5 days of disuse. Acta Physiol. 210, 600–611 (2014).
6. Biolo, G. et al. Calorie restriction accelerates the catabolism of lean body mass during 2 wk of bed rest. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 86, 366–372 (2007).
7. Hespel, P. et al. Oral creatine supplementation facilitates the rehabilitation of disuse atrophy and alters the expression of muscle myogenic factors in human. J. Physiol. 536, 625–633 (2001).
8. Otranto, M., Do Nascimento, A. P. & Monte-Alto-Costa, A. Effects of supplementation with different edible oils on cutaneous wound healing. Wound Repair Regen. 18, 629–636 (2010).
9. Smith, G. I. et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augment the muscle protein anabolic response to hyperinsulinaemia-hyperaminoacidaemia in healthy young and middle-aged men and women. Clin. Sci. (Lond). 121, 267–78 (2011).
10. Shaw, G., Lee-barthel, A., Ross, M. L. R., Wang, B. & Baar, K. Vitamin C – enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis 1 , 2. 1–8 (2016).
There number of types of protein powders on the market is forever expanding. They range from milk-based to those of plant origin to even powdered beef and chicken protein. Of all those available, however, it’s whey and casein that are the two most popular powders of animal origin, whereas soy powder takes top spot for vegan protein. Knowing which to use to best recover after hard training or a match should be a straightforward decision. This brief article will hopefully convince you so.
In a 2009 study,1 Tang and colleagues recruited three groups of six young men. The three groups performed four sets of leg press and knee-extensions at a workload equivalent to 10-12 reps. Exercise was immediately followed by consumption of a whey (21.4g), casein (21.9g) or soy (22.2g) drink. The varied quantity of the three drinks was to ensure the amount of protein in each provided 10g of essential amino acids.
• Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is the process of using amino acids to repair and create (synthesise) new proteins for muscle growth.
• MPS following the whey protein drink was 122% greater than casein, and 31% greater than soy.
• Study conclusion: whey hydrolysate stimulated MPS to a greater degree than soy and casein after resistance exercise.
Why is Whey more beneficial?
• Although all three protein drinks stimulated a rise in blood concentrations of the nine essential amino acids (EAA), at 30 and 60 minutes after ingestion, the rise in EAAs, was greater following whey protein compared to soy and casein.
• Branched-chain amino acids, which represent 3 of the 9 EAAs and include leucine, are important in ‘activating’ the genes and signalling proteins involved in repairing and building new muscle tissue.
• Whey protein has a higher content of branch-chain amino acids and leucine compared to soy or casein, explaining the greater increase in protein synthesis after whey supplementation.
• Additionally, whey protein is more rapidly digested than soy and casein. This results in the amino acids appearing in the bloodstream quicker and activating MPS faster than soy or casein.
• Conclusion: the higher content of branch-chain amino acids, specifically leucine, in whey protein, alongside the rapid absorption of these amino acids into the bloodstream, are responsible for whey proteins greater effect on muscle recovery compared to soy or casein. As such, a whey protein isolate or hydrolysate supplement is recommended.
1. Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A. & Phillips, S. M. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol 107, 987–992 (2009).
When any Footballer is looking to build or maintain muscle mass, Protein is the key dietary requirement in order to help achieve this. Whey Protein is probably the most convenient way of consuming the required protein when compared with other sources such as whole foods. However, with various types of protein on the market, it can be difficult to know which is best to purchase. In this brief article, I aim to shed some light on the different types of whey protein out there to help you make a more informed buying decision.
Whey Protein is derived from a Protein found in Cow's Milk, and this protein makes up roughly 20% of the total protein found in milk (the remaining 80% consists of casein). Whey is more quickly digested than casein, with estimated absorption rates of around 8-10 grams and 6.1 grams per hour, respectively. In addition to digestion speed, the usefulness of a protein source to optimise recovery is dependent on its proportion of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids, particularly leucine. Whey protein has these in abundance, and is arguably the highest quality of all dietary proteins.
Types of whey protein
Whey protein powders come in three main forms:
> Whey concentrates
> Whey Isolates
> Whey hydrolysates
The cheapest of the three are whey concentrates. These contain roughly 80% protein with 5-6% carbohydrate and fat. If you don’t mind the ‘tag along’ carbs and fat, then this is probably the best choice.
- Increased Carbs & Fat
- Lower Protein Levels compared with other sources
Isolates might contain up to 90% protein with minimal carbohydrates and fat, so they are naturally the best choice if you’re dieting. You can expect to pay a little more for a whey isolate than a concentrate, though when you factor in the higher percentage of protein in whey isolates, this difference in price is minimal.
- Low Fat & Carbohydrate content
- Highest Protein Content
- More Expensive
Whey hydrolysates are the most expensive of the three, with a protein content typically ranging from 80-90%. Whey hydrolysates are concentrates or isolates that have been pre-digested using a process called hydrolysis. Pre-digestion of protein essentially breaks longer protein chains into smaller ones, resulting in slightly faster digestion rates. The downside of hydrolysed proteins is that they tend to have a bitter taste due to the presence of free form amino acids. For me, the taste and cost of whey hydrolysate isn’t made up for by the slightly faster absorption compared to a whey isolate.
- Faster digestion rates
- Very Expensive
- Bitter taste
- Lower protein content than Isolate
Overall, whey isolate seems to take top spot. Per gram of protein, it is almost as affordable as the cheaper whey concentrate, but without the additional carbs and fat. Though not as quickly absorbed as hydrolysate, these differences under real-world conditions would be negligible, and certainly not enough to make you want to pay more for a bitter aftertaste.
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