Purpose of Review
During a soccer season, athletes tend to play intense and light matches such as decisive and qualifying games. The amount of muscle glycogen stores is a determining factor of performance during exercise, and manipulation of carbohydrate intake during the soccer season to enhance muscle glycogen stores can improve the performance of elite soccer players. The purpose of this review is to provide a holistic view of the periodization of carbohydrates and their effects on sports performance, based on what the literature recommends for the periodization of carbohydrates for endurance athletes, and of muscle glycogen recovery and compensation among professional soccer players.
The ingestion of large amounts of carbohydrates (CHO;10 g/kg of body weight (BW)/day) is important 36 h before a match for the elite soccer player to ensure muscle glycogen supercompensation. In addition, elite soccer players should intake 1 to 1.5 g/kg BW/h within the first 4 h after a soccer game to maximize glycogen resynthesis. However, the season is comprised of away and home games that require different intensities; thus, soccer players need to periodize CHO intake based on evidence-based recommendations such as “train low,” “train low, compete high,” and/or “sleep low.” The goal is to induce training adaptations by alternating with high or low CHO availability based on seasons, matches, and training intensities. The strategy can result in improved performance during games.
Periodizing the consumption of carbohydrates, based on the intensity of training and matches, should include more carbohydrates when the matches require higher intensity and fewer carbohydrates when they require lower intensity; this is a strategy that will improve the performance of elite soccer athletes.
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Haniel Soares fernandes declares that he has no conflict of interest.
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Fernandes, H.S. Carbohydrate Consumption and Periodization Strategies Applied to Elite Soccer Players. Curr Nutr Rep 9, 414–419 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-020-00338-w
- Soccer performance
- Carbohydrate periodization
- Sport nutrition