Nutritional Strategies In Half Time
What foods are recommended to obtain a good performance in the second half? The nutritionist’s advice
For many years the traditional approach to nutrition between the first and second halves of a match (both in amateur and professional contexts) ) consisted of a glass of tea with sugar and squeezed orange or lemon. Like all strategies that remain over time, it certainly has its merits. Also carbohydrate-rich foods such as tarts, cakes and sweets (even jelly beans) were used in past years for their high available energy content (1). Some authors even suggested the use of Pretzels for their sodium content (1).
On the other hand, these kinds of food contain several ingredients that are not entirely healthy for athletes, such as hydrogenated vegetable fats (trans-fat), artificial colours and additives. These ingredients are not harmful if consumed during a single match, but their negative effects in the long term are still being studied in order to understand how they affect the athletes’ health. Artificial colours and additives often present in these foods have been associated to aggressive behaviour and poor concentration in school age children (2).
It is well known that intense exercise may cause an hyperglicemic response. Physical activity produces a delivery of cathecolamines that inhibits the activity of pancreatic B cells (23). It is plausible that a combination of intense exercise and carbohydrate ingestion during half time may help in maintaining a stable high glycemia in the second half. To support this possibility Achten et al. 
Observed that the ingestion of 600 ml of a drink containing maltodestrins during a 25 min warm-up time including sprints and attacking phases resulted in an increased cathecolamine concentration, lower insulinemic response and higher blood glucose levels. Therefore, a re-warm up during half time including high intensity exercise combined with carbohydrate ingestion could be beneficial. Anyway, this type of research protocol is not being considered at present.
It can be easily deduced that the choice must be individualized, because first of all you must take into account the player’s features (tolerance for drinks, solid food, sport-gel, etc.) to favour compliance during half time.
Therefore, foods having following characteristics are recommended:
- Carbohydrates in concentrations ranging between 8% minimum and 20% maximum
- Quickly assimilated food. The liquid choice is the simplest and most effective one.
- Electrolyte containing food. Mineral salts are contained in balanced amounts in sport drinks, but can be low in sport gels and even absent in maltodextrins, etc.
- Drinks (fruit juices, sport drinks, maltodextrins, etc.)
- High carbohydrate content sport-gels
In case powdered electrolytes to be dissolved in water are used, high fixed residue water should be used.
In conclusion, the most important issue is hydration, i.e., to drink liquids in order to replace water resources in the body. Hydration, even with just plain water should begin long before the match and be continued throughout the play and not only during half time.
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