The hydration status, fluid and carbohydrate intake of male adolescent soccer players during training in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
Adolescent athletes of this era are more pressurized than adolescents of previous generations to perform at an optimum level (Micheli & Jenkins 2001, p49). The importance of winning can result in adolescent athletes developing inappropriate nutritional practices such as neglecting hydration and consuming insufficient carbohydrate (Micheli & Jenkins 2001, p57). Consuming insufficient fluid leads to dehydration which reduces a soccer player’s ability to continue training. Consuming inadequate carbohydrate reduces performance and blood glucose levels during training. This study aimed to determine the hydration status, fluid and carbohydrate intake of male, adolescent soccer players during training. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 122 amateur male, adolescent soccer players (mean age = 15.8 ± 0.8 years; mean BMI = 20.4 ± 2.0 kg/m2). The players’ hydration status before and after training, was measured using urine specific gravity and percent loss of body weight. Their carbohydrate intake, as well as the type and amount of fluid consumed, were assessed before, during and after training. A questionnaire was administered to determine the players’ knowledge regarding the importance of fluid and carbohydrate for soccer training. The study had an 87.1% response rate. The mean environmental conditions did not predispose players to heat illness. However, the players were at risk of developing heat illness during six of the 14 training sessions. Although the mean urine specific gravity indicated that players were slightly dehydrated before and after training, 43.8% of players were very or extremely dehydrated before training and 53.6% after training. A few (3.3%) were extremely hyperhydrated before training and after training (7.0%). On average players lost less than 1% of body weight during training and less than 3% of players dehydrated more than 2%. Players consumed mainly water before (289.17 ± 206.37 ml), during (183.20 ± 158.35 ml) and after (259.09 ± 192.29 ml) training. More than 90% stated that water was the most important fluid to consume before, during and after training. Very few (4.7%) correctly stated that carbohydrate should be consumed before, during and after training. Players were found to be slightly dehydrated before and after training and therefore were not consuming enough fluids during training. Players consumed inadequate amounts and types of fluid and carbohydrate. This not only compromises their performance but also health. Players were not aware of the importance of fluid and carbohydrate for soccer training. This study is unique in that it focused on the carbohydrate and hydration practices of socioeconomically disadvantaged adolescent soccer players during training. The study sample therefore represents a high risk group about which there is limited published data both locally and internationally. This study generated important baseline information which was lacking before on the hydration status, fluid and carbohydrate intake of adolescent soccer players in South Africa.