Sports Nutrition

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Nutrition in General

Charlie asked me to provide an article on sports nutrition and before I delve into details it’s worth noting that the general principles for good nutrition apply to both normal life and let’s say nutrition for rugby. So, let’s break it down into simples terms; there are 3 primary food groups that we all probably know which are: Protein, Carbohydrates and fats. There’s no need to dig into sub categories like legumes/fruits and vegetables/dairy and milk products as they converge into the above but it’s safe to say at this level and at this time in life we should all be conscious about ensuring that we carefully consider what we consume in terms of the food groups, and most importantly when.

Dispelling the Myth

You may read and hear many people telling you that Protein is all good and carbohydrates are all bad, and fats make you fat – this is absolute nonsense and those people are very poorly informed. What is true is that we should all maintain a healthy level of lean protein with most meals, and refined sugar-based carbohydrates such as bread and pasta should be avoided or be consumed in moderation, apologies to our Italian and French community for these disturbing facts. Similarly, to our Slovak contingent there’s very little add value to deep fat fried food, Halusky, Brindza etc – in fact the national diet here is terrible, but thankfully hasn’t impacted too many of the 20 something girls wondering around town in skimpy denim shorts!!! All food and drinks that we love; Pizza, chocolate, beer etc are all awful in terms of general nutrition and indeed sports nutrition. That said chocolate pre-game in many elite level sports is not uncommon but these are for athletes searching for sugar rush and who burn in excess of 3000 kcal a day, currently with the exception of Tom no one at RKB needs to worry about that, just yet – even La Machine’s middle age spread is starting to show signs of Slovak sympathizing.

Macros & Micros

You will hear often people talking about Macros and Micros and these are just gym folk using expressions for Macronutrients (which we mentioned above: Proteins/Fats/Carbs) and micronutrients which tend to be vitamin/protein/bcaa type supplementation – don’t concern yourself with these but have in the back of your mind that an average inactive male (most of RKB) will expend between 2000-2500 kcal a day just by existing. So if you ever want to genuinely lose weight (not lean bulk/not not mass gain) you need to consume less food than your daily calorie expenditure. This is known as a calorie deficit. It’s the simplest mathematics in nutrition for those considering weight loss; simply consume less than you burn with one caveat, that doesn’t mean you can eat 2500 kcal worth of Pizza a day, the foods you consume have to be nutrient dense. As a rule of thumb, you should have a portion of protein the size of your fist for every meal and two portions of green vegetables for every meal and conserve your carbohydrate intake prior to heavy activity or just after heavy activity.

Meal Planning & Nutrition for Rugby

I often get asked to assist with meal planning and there is unfortunately not a one size fits all approach to meal planning – it’s attached predominantly for your goals and what I mean by that is

maintenance/weight loss/bulking all require different consumption rates at based on macronutrient requirements tailored to your goal and your physique and your position or sport.

For instance, a prop (hooray says Giuseppe!) will need to consume more kcal a day than a fly half (disconnect here Charlie?), as a prop will have to bear the weight of the front row, neck, lower back and strong trunk a professional prop may in fact eat two whole chickens a day, up to 12 eggs, and 400gm of rice. Whereas anaerobic capacity is fundamental in a back they may have a much leaner/cleaner diet for example but to sustain that muscle recovery and huge impacts will also have large amounts of protein with judiciously timed carbohydrates and fats. If you want help with your meal plans or are interested about reading further into sports nutrition contact me directly or read samples such as this;

https://ruckscience.com/learn/pre-season-rugby-diet/

to help you on your journey.

Remember at all times your food intake should match your exercise levels, before we explore depleted glycogen levels, flat muscles etc. be conscious that you consume just about or just below the amount of energy you expend.

What to Eat and What to Avoid

Proteins: Eggs/Egg Whites/Lean Turkey/Lean Chicken/Red Meat (not too excessively)/Fish oily and white/Pork/Duck etc.

Fats: Nuts (in moderation)/Oils/Grass fed Butter

Carbohydrates: White Rice/Sweet Potato/Oats

Greens: You can basically eat these as much as you want; Broccoli/Spinach/Kale/Asparagus/Salad/Cauliflower etc

Fruits: I’ve gone for low impact low sugar fruits like; Raspberrries/Blueberries/Strawberries. As you’ll probably deduce fruits and vegetables don’t count as macronutrients and predominantly fall into carb macro but are vitamin rich so should never be neglected.

Notice these are basic foods and require very little digestion and absorption except for the cruciferous vegetables Broccoli and Cauliflower but whose nutrients are invaluable. You should aim to eat at least 2/3 whole broccolis a week!

Avoid: Most dairy (breaking down the lactate enzyme efficiency depletes after 8 years old/Refined Sugar Pasta/Bread/Alcohol etc.

Case Study

You may think this is all rubbish, but we have our very own guinea pig at RKB who can prove otherwise. About 16 weeks ago Slavo asked me in the gym with help shifting a few kilos and I created a meal plan for him which he abided by religiously whereby the results are astonishing;

  1. Starting Weight 83kg – Weight Today: 69 kg
  2. 14kg weight loss is equivalent to 14 bags of sugar

  3. 14kg weight loss represents a 17% percent total body fat loss

  4. Waist size Starting 96cm now 82cm – 14cm around the midriff

Preparation

If you want a sample of Slavo’s meal plan get in touch with me directly or if you want to combine this with training gym/rugby or otherwise I would be happy to help.

by Zulf

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