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Rugby Player Diet and Nutrition Advice

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Learning from Rugby Nutritionists

Nutrition is a key part of any sport, and rugby is no exception. Known for its raw physicality and high-impact tackles, rugby places huge demands on its athletes. Along with training, nutrition is important for supporting training goals.

A nutritionist’s job is to act as a consultant for a player or team, designing and planning a nutrition schedule that takes into account the unique demands and output of each player. They help explain the howand why to rugby players when it comes to food. Check out below what a Rugby player can discover from their nutritionist:

Water

Hydration is a vital aspect of sports nutrition that is easy to underestimate. Fortunately, nutritionists help pick up on overlooked areas of nutrition. 

See below for important points about water:

  • Water was found to be the most important part of a player’s diet. Dehydrating by just 3% (3kg for a 100kg player) can reduce strength by 10% and speed by 8%, while also increasing injury.
  • Players were told to drink a minimum of 3 litres of water per day, which can be monitored with a water bottle. Fruit and herbal teas count towards this water intake.
  • Water should ideally be filtered or bottled.
  • During training, consume 250ml of fluid every 15 minutes.
  • Avoid carbonated and fizzy drinks as they contain lots of sugar and also cause bloating.
  • Drink 1.2 litres to replace 1kg of lost bodyweight.

Carbohydrates:

Unlike endurance and distance based sports, rugby requires a high degree of explosive power. Carbohydrates are good for providing energy, some carbohydrates can be broken down rapidly, thus causing the sugars they contain to be absorbed quickly. If your glycogen stores are already full this may promote fat gain.

Unrefined carbohydrates (food in its natural state: brown rice, vegetables, fruits, wholemeal and wholegrain foods) take longer to be digested due to the fibre they contain, slowing down the rate sugars are released into the blood.

If you eat refined carbohydrates e.g. white bread, white pasta etc, sugar is quickly released into the blood which sends your body into insulin producing mode, a hormone which is designed to store glucose. If you haven’t been training, you’ll have no glycogen to store and it may instead cause fat to be stored instead.

When it comes to carbs, it can be recommended that:

  • Consume unrefined carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholegrains, oats, fruit and vegetables.
  • Eat complex carbs around 3 hours before training.
  • High fibre foods are good because they slow the absorption of sugar into the blood.
  • Eat 1 or 2 portions of fruit and 3-4 veg per day.
  • Avoid large carb-dominated meals as they can make you sluggish due to excess calories.

Protein

Protein is the building block of the human body and the thing all sports supplement companies discuss. Natural protein occurring in food can help with muscle growth.

Other key points you should note:

  • Protein should be consumed at a rate of 2.2 grams of protein per 1kg of bodyweight. An 80kg person needs 176g of protein a day.
  • Protein requires time to digest, so space your servings out in a day.
  • Wide variety of protein sources is preferable: eggs, lean meat, nuts and fish.
  • Aim for lean protein that doesn’t contain hidden fats.
  • Protein can be had in snacks, such as low fat houmous, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs etc.
  • Extra protein intake can be consumed with sports supplements such as those in the MaxiNutrition sustain and rebuild range.
  • Take protein supplements on rest days as well as training to help maintain muscles.

Fats

A word that many misunderstand, fats are actually very good for the body and an essential part of nutrition.

There are ‘good fats’ with are polyunsaturated fats such as Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. ‘Bad’ fats are saturated fats, while ‘ugly’ fats are chemically altered hydrogenated, trans-fats.

It’s also good to follow these tips:

  • Avoid saturated and trans fats at all times and skip deep fried fats.
  • Use cold pressed olive oil as a main source of fat.
  • Get essential fish oils in your diet by eating 2 meals of cold water fish per week.
  • Keep fat intake to 15-20% of total calories.

Habits instilled by nutritionists

As well as understanding their food, players have their diets planned and their food-related lifestyles looked after by nutritionists.

These are rules that have been set for Rugby players:

  • Daily protein targets – 2.5-3g of protein per kilo of bodyweight.
  • Replacing snacks with healthy options - such as protein pancakes or peanut butter on a sliced apple.
  • Build mass by eating 4 meals per day
  • Manipulate carb intake – this ties in with the above points on carbs. Players must vary their carbs pre and post training.
  • High carb intake pre-match– this also includes drinking plenty of water the day before a game.

As you can see, a nutritionist brings a wealth of expertise to your sport that can’t be matched. Considering nutrition helps to support your goals you may owe it to yourself to hire a dedicated nutritionist to help you reach your potential.

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