Briggs, Marc A, Harper, Liam D., McNamee, Ged, Cockburn, Emma, Rumbold, Penny, Stevenson, Emma and Russell, Mark (2017) The effects of an increased calorie breakfast consumed prior to simulated match-play in Academy soccer players. European Journal of Sport Science. ISSN 1746-1391

Dietary analysis of Academy soccer players’ highlights that total energy and carbohydrate intakes are less than optimal; especially, on match-days. As UK Academy matches predominantly kick-off at ~11:00 h, breakfast is likely the last pre-exercise meal and thus may provide an intervention opportunity on match-day. Accordingly, the physiological and performance effects of an increased calorie breakfast consumed ~135-min before soccer-specific exercise were investigated. English Premier League Academy soccer players (n=7) repeated a 90-min soccer-match-simulation on two occasions after consumption of habitual (Bhab; ~1100 kJ) or increased (Binc; ~2100 kJ) energy breakfasts standardised for macronutrient contributions (~60% carbohydrates, ~15% proteins and ~25% fats). Countermovement jump height, sprint velocities (15-m and 30-m), 30-m repeated sprint maintenance, gut fullness, abdominal discomfort and soccer dribbling performances were measured. Blood samples were taken at rest, pre-exercise, half-time and every 15-min during exercise. Although dribbling precision (P=0.522; 29.9±5.5 cm) and success (P=0.505; 94±8%) were unchanged throughout all time-points, mean dribbling speed was faster (4.3±5.7%) in Binc relative to Bhab (P=0.023; 2.84 vs 2.75 m·s-1). Greater feelings of gut fullness (67±17%, P=0.001) were observed in Binc without changes in abdominal discomfort (P=0.595). All other physical performance measures and blood lactate and glucose concentrations were comparable between trials (all P>0.05). Findings demonstrate that Academy soccer players were able to increase pre-match energy intake without experiencing abdominal discomfort; thus, likely contributing to the amelioration of energy deficits on match-days. Furthermore, whilst Binc produced limited benefits to physical performance, increased dribbling speed was identified, which may be of benefit to match-play.

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