We caught up with Nutrition X expert Professor Don MacLaren ahead of the 2016 Rugby Union Six Nations this weekend. Get his top tips for Rugby players this season, with a specific focus on how to fuel ahead of the big game!
1. Make sure you use the DAY BEFORE the match to get enough carbohydrates into the body. This IS the day to get‘fuelled up’. Failure to do so may invariably lead to running out of energy before the end of the game. This means eating (and drinking if it helps) carbohydrate-containing foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, and snacks. A useful amount of carbohydrate is likely to be between 6 to 8 grams per kilogram body weight (i.e. for a 100kg player equates to 600-800 grams of carbohydrate). Useful products such as MRM (up to 2 servings) will help if unable to eat enough.
2. Make sure you use the DAY BEFORE the match to get enough fluids into the body. This IS the day to get hydrated. Failure to do this properly could result in not enough carbohydrate being stored (water is needed to help store muscle carbohydrate) as well as the consequences of possible dehydration during the game – including the probability of cramping. Taking 1-2 servings of Hydra 10 have certainly proved beneficial for many professional athletes.
3. Do NOT ignore eating/drinking protein too. Protein is essential to get the muscle structure ready for the match. So eat and/or drink sufficient protein throughout the day before a match too –around 1.8-2 grams per kilogram body weight.
4. Try and get a good night rest. This may be helped by avoiding caffeine-containing products in the evening, and not drinking too much fluid close to bedtime in case of frequent trips to the bathroom. Additionally, having a supper containing cottage cheese (or a casein product such as Hypnos), and/or chicken/turkey breast, and/or warm milk may help sleep. Find out more about Maximum Recovery Matrix here. Find out more about Hypnos here.
5. On the day of the match there are probably 2 (maybe 3 if an evening kick off) opportunities to top the fuel and keep hydrated. Remember this is NOT a day to actually fuel up since that should be done the day before! Having a breakfast and then the pre-match meal (3.5hours before kick off) are such opportunities – so use them wisely. If nervous and unable to eat properly, then try liquid supplements such as MRM and Hydra 10. The meals should be light, should contain carbohydrate and protein,should be easily digested (avoid red meat), and should also have water/fluids. Remember ‘Eat light and play light’ – the food should not be swishing around in your stomach making you feel uncomfortable.
6. After the pre-match meal keep hydrated with water only (try and avoid carbohydrates until just before kickoff). a light carbohydrate drink can be imbibed 5 minutes or so before actually running on to the pitch. Water should then be the preferred drink for the first half.
7. It is a good idea to consume a protein drink an hour or so before kick off as this helps with slowing down muscle breakdown and also aiding muscle recovery after a match. This drink should be light and small in volume and not add to any gut fullness (suggest BCAA Plus or even Amino Protein shot).
8. IF a player wishes to take some caffeine before a match, the time to take it is around 45 minutes before kickoff i.e. just before the warm-up. I suggest an Xplode shot (250mg caffeine in 60ml). Using caffeine chewing gum can help, but this must be taken 5 minutes before kick off. Find out more about Amino Protein Shots here. Find out more about Xplode Shots here.
9. Use half-time to get some carbohydrate and fluids in by eating or drinking or using a gel (Energel+ for example).
10. A light carbohydrate-electrolyte drink for the second half (Hydra 10) is ideal.
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