Our expert says:
There is very little evidence to suggest that glycogen depletion is a factor during intermittent exercise like soccer. I would like to know how the article can state that players have insufficient glycogen reserves before a game, because I’m not sure that this has ever been established. Having said this, I certainly do believe that very often, the body can become ‘energy depleted’, though this is subtly different from glycogen depletion. We know, for example that the normal glycogen levels in the muscle and liver are able to provide sufficient energy for about 2 hours of sustained exercise. How intermittent exercise affects this will depend on the actual game and player position etc. I believe that the more important thing to do is to make sure that during the game, you are able to replace glucose as it is used. If you consider that you play 45 minutes, you then have an opportunity to replace the energy at half time. The highest glucose oxidation rates measured are about 1g per minute, and so if you can replace about 50g of carbs at half time, you should (in theory) be able to take the field ‘as good as new’ in the second half. So that’s what I would focus on. Then, perhaps the most important thing, as you point out, is that between matches, you need to replace the energy used. This means really eating a lot in the hours after the game, to replenish the body’s glycogen stores, which will have been used during the match.
As for how much you need, I’ve also heard it said that you need between 400 and 500 g per day, which is maybe a little more reasonable than 700 per day. However, I do believe that if you eat to appetite, you should be OK, because your body will let you know what it requires and if you are fatigued, then you probably need to increase your carb intake.
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