Proteins are long chains made up of amino acids whose main function is to serve as substrate for muscle synthesis. Proteins can be found in most foods of animal origin, such as meat and fish, eggs or dairy products; but we can also find high quality proteins in vegetables such as soy. However, science suggests that proteins derived from milk are the ones that provide the highest quality protein. And what are the benefits of protein for footballers? We’ll tell you everything you need to know in this article.
What importance does protein play for footballers?
As we said at the beginning of the article, the function of proteins is to serve as the main substrate for muscle synthesis. Proteins, then, alongside a correct training plan, complete nutrition and adequate rest, will help the footballer’s musculature adapt to their needs, and their muscle quality will increase.
Do you know what protein supplements footballers take? This is the article for you, make sure you read it all!
In addition, protein also plays a crucial role in the muscle recovery and repair process, as it’s responsible for synthesising, once again, the muscle tissue that repairs the damage suffered during training or competition due to overexertion.
How much does a footballer need?
It is vital to remember that a footballer, like any other person, is not a robot, and therefore their nutritional needs will not always be the same, but will vary according to their daily activity. As such, nutritional strategies should vary according to the activity.
For example, a footballer weighing 70 kg should consume between 98 and 119 grams of protein.
Post-match protein intake
However, on competition days the footballer will be subjected to much more demanding efforts than during the week, meaning post-competition muscle damage will be much greater, and making the muscle recovery and repair process essential.
Protein and recovery for footballers after matches.
It is therefore hugely important to consume an extra amount of protein, just after the competition, so that this process of tissue reconstruction begins as soon as possible and in the most effective way.
In this regard, the literature suggests leucine as potentially the most important amino acid for muscle repair and adaptation to training; as such, consuming a protein source rich in leucine will help us to more effectively recover our musculoskeletal system after competition.
How much protein should a footballer consume for recovery?
As for the amount of protein we should take after competition, an intake of 20-25 g of protein or 10 g of essential amino acids will be sufficient to guarantee the start of the recovery process.
How to spread protein intake throughout the day?
As we’ve mentioned, we need to adapt our daily nutritional strategy to the activity we carry out that day, which is not always the same.
What sources of protein can footballers make use of?
Depending on the activity we’re doing, whether it’s training, competition or rest, our calorie intake should be adapted to these needs, but, in addition, depending on the time we do it, we should distribute the protein intakes to guarantee good recovery after physical activity, ensuring good muscle synthesis that activates the tissue repair process.
Protein Supplements and Footballers
Although a high protein diet is necessary for good muscle quality in football, it’s often difficult to get the required amount of protein from food alone.
Specifically, at the end of a 90-minute match, it’s usually be difficult to have a meal that includes 20-30 g of protein and/or 10 g of essential amino acids.
Whey Protein for footballers. Get to know how and when to take it.
There are several types of protein supplements, each with its own characteristics making it more or less suitable depending on our profile.
Whey Protein Concentrate, Isolate and Hydrolysed
Whey protein is one of the most widely used proteins in the world of sport.
In addition to its high protein, fat and vitamin content, this type of protein contains a significant proportion of branched-chain amino acids, which are essential for the proper functioning of our muscle metabolism and protein synthesis.
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We can distinguish principal 3 types of whey protein: Concentrated, Isolated and Hydrolysed.
- Concentrated: It has, even after filtering, a certain level of fat and cholesterol. In this type of protein, carbohydrates are present in the form of lactose, which has not been removed during processing. In addition, compared to other proteins, they have a higher concentration of bioactive compounds. In terms of concentration, it can vary between 30% and 89%, depending on the filtering process it’s undergone.
Choose from more than 30 flavours of HSN Whey Protein Concentrate: Evowhey 2.0 Protein.
- Isolated: Processed to remove both cholesterol and carbohydrates in the form of lactose. Its concentration of bioactive compounds is lower, but the vast majority of the product is protein, with concentrations of 90% or more. As the cholesterol and lactose have been removed, the absorption and digestion of this protein will be easier than that of the concentrated protein.
Improved digestibility with the Digezyme enzyme complex
- Hydrolysed: Derived from isolated proteins. The process they undergo consists of a treatment of the isolated protein with digestive enzymes, which break down the proteins into dipeptide chains, making them easily absorbed in the digestive system due to their smaller size. As a result, the absorption of this type of protein is much faster than the rest.
Choose the whey protein format, as well as the type: concentrate, isolate or hydrolysed.
In a sport as demanding as football, where you train every day, and sometimes several times a day, hydrolysed protein is recommended as its absorption will be much faster and more effective, thus activating the process of muscle repair and synthesis faster.
This is a protein present, in large proportion, in cow’s milk, with a high biological value. This protein is necessary for the absorption of phosphorus and calcium in the intestine; and its high content in glutamine and essential amino acids make it a great protein supplement for muscle recovery.
What is casein and what are its benefits for athletes? Click here to find out more.
Casein is a slow absorption protein, providing the body with proteins continuously and gradually, to avoid possible deficits, thus ensuring a protein supply for long periods without ingesting food and avoiding muscle catabolism.
Recovering: Protein + Carbohydrates
As we’ve already mentioned in previous articles, the absorption of protein will be much more effective if it is ingested together with carbohydrates, as these will ensure the proteins are not oxidised for energy, but instead used for their main purpose, muscle repair.
However, within this type of supplement, we should avoid those with a high sugar content, as it is not only the quantity that will be important, but also the quality.
It is therefore recommended that maltodextrin or other high glycaemic index carbohydrates with a low sugar content be used in addition to protein.
Tips for optimising footballer performance
The performance of a footballer, as we have already mentioned on other occasions, is the sum of many factors, with nutrition being one of the most important, but not the only one.
Proper nutrition and supplementation is a basic pillar for the optimisation of a player’s performance, but we must not forget that, without the other pillars, our construction won’t stand up.
As a result, we also need to pay close attention to our hydration and rest, as well as maintaining stable and healthy lifestyle habits. Only then will we be able to give 100% of ourselves in every training session and in every match, which will bring us closer to achieving our goals.
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- Ruiz, F., Irazusta, A., Gil, S., Irazusta, J., Casis, L., & Gil, J. (2005). Nutritional intake in soccer players of different ages. Journal of Sports Sciences, 23(3), 235-242.
- Bonfanti, N. (2019). Nutrición en deportes de equipo: recomendaciones y aplicaciones prácticas basadas en la evidencia. Revista Española de Nutrición Humana y Dietética, 23(Supl. 1), 28-29.
- Thomas, D. T., Erdman, K. A., & Burke, L. M. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition and athletic performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), 501-528.
- Mendes, A. P., Carvalho, P., & Teixeira, V. H. (2017). Nutritional Guidelines for Football Players. In Injuries and Health Problems in Football (pp. 595-606). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
- De Wit, J. N. (1998). Nutritional and functional characteristics of whey proteins in food products. Journal of dairy science, 81(3), 597-608.
- Smithers, G. W. (2008). Whey and whey proteins—from ‘gutter-to-gold’. International Dairy Journal, 18(7), 695-704.
Other content you might be interested in:
- Find out how muscle volume affects or improves a footballer’s performance.
- How should a footballer structure their daily diet?
- Do you know how protein supplement analysis is carried out? You can find out in detail here