Ask an expert

14 Apr 2005

Glycogen replenishment & maintanence
Hi Doc

I am a soccer player & currently read an article that studies show that soccer players before a match do not have the necessary glycogen stores to actually play the match, never mind maintenance during & recovery afterwards.
Last week I definitely did not have enough energy to play full out & was totally stuffed after the match (slept from 7pm on Sat-9:15pm!)

How do I then maintain & ensure that I have enough reserves for the match without gaining weight?
A different article I read said that for 24hrs after a match one should consume 8-10g carbs /kg body weight. For me thats 576-720 grams of carbs in 24 hrs!
Answer 440 views

01 Jan 0001


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.

Good luck

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
34% - 9260 votes
66% - 17840 votes