In support of Men’s Health Week we have asked the club’s nutritionists to share some of the advice they give to our academy players on the basics of nutrition.

As a young rugby player, it is really important that your diet is balanced with lots of variety to get all of the right nutrients. This not only helps your rugby training but helps to keep illnesses away and help you grow. The timing of snacks and meals are also really important to get the most out of your training, and adapt from sessions.

GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT!

It is recommended that a healthy balanced diet should have the largest contribution from fruit and vegetables and starchy foods, with a moderate amount of dairy and non-dairy protein based foods, and the smallest contribution from fats (since these can already be found in the other food groups). Please note that sports drinks fall into the group outside of the plate as these are high in sugar, and since most training sessions do not last longer than 90 minutes, sports drinks are not required. Some examples of the foods found in each of these food groups can be seen in the Eatwell Guide picture below.

Men’s Health Week: A guide to the basics of nutrition

Remember, of the above foods you should aim to eat 2 servings of fish per week, 1 of which should be oily and 2 servings of red meat. Additionally, starchy foods should be wholemeal based, with the exception to meals and snacks immediately before or after training. Providing you are consuming enough energy to fuel your performance and growth, and do not restrict the intake of any food groups, there should be no need for any supplementation of vitamins and minerals or sports supplements such as protein shakes.

FLUID INTAKE

Fluid is vital for transporting nutrients around the body and to help you sweat in order to regulate your body temperature. Guidelines for health suggest consuming 2 litres of fluid per day, which is expected to increase as training intensity and duration increases, as well as during warmer weather.  

TIMING OF INTAKE

To fuel your performance it is recommended that a small carbohydrate based meal or snack is consumed within the 1 hour before training (for example a banana or beans on toast), and a carbohydrate and protein based snack is consumed within 30 minutes after training (for example a milkshake or a tuna sandwich). During these times only, foods should be lower in fat to speed up digestion rates.