Yale places great focus on nutrition & the relationship to performance, both on the pitch and in the classroom. Taking your training regime seriously at University can be difficult, especially with so many unhealthy influences. Reaching and maintaining your goals on a student budget is by no means easy.  The example diet guide shown below is typical of a rugby specific training day or match day and is as low cost as possible without compromising quality or results.

During pre-season training your body will be pushed to its absolute limits and players at all levels should hopefully be reaching their training goals. Every season we see players getting stronger and faster than ever, meaning there are increased demands on the body. Nutrition is key for the foundation upon which sports performance is built, without it you won’t be getting maximum results on the pitch.

As well as your nutrition plan, you should also be concentrating on carb-loading on your training days (e.g. Tuesday and Thursday).  Your diet for the rest of the week should reflect your specific goals whether it is weight gain, loss or fitness, and of course, around your food budget.  For example, this could include low fat foods, high protein foods or consuming appropriate sports supplements.

There are four key areas of focus to reach your optimum performance, which should be adopted by both athletes and the general population:

1. PROTEIN

Whey protein is extremely popular and is probably the most important nutrient in rugby player’s diet.  As a rule of thumb, consume approximately 2g of protein per kg of body weight in order to aid your training and recovery.

2. FATS

Good fats (unsaturated) are often wrongly avoided in an athlete’s diet.  This is a common misconception as they are essential to protect your vital organs and positively affect general health, as well as being a fuel source for long duration exercise; although try to avoid high amounts just before or after intense exercise.

3. CARBOHYDRATES

You will need a lot of energy for pre-season and carbohydrates are where your energy will come from.  To start, try and incorporate the right sources of carbohydrates into your diet.  Again a good rule of thumb for rugby players to follow is about 7g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight on training days and match days.

4. HYDRATION

It goes without saying that the most important area to concentrate on all day, every-day, especially on your training and match days is hydration. Remember to weigh yourself before and after training to see how much fluid you have lost and therefore need to replace: 1kg body weight loss = 1.5 – 2L of fluid to be replaced (depending on weather conditions).  It’s also recommended to drink water throughout the day rather than a lot at once.

With the above in mind, here is an idea of what to eat on a rugby specific training day:

EXAMPLE DIET GUIDE

 07:30-09:00: 100g Oats, 1 large banana, 2tbsp pumpkin seeds, 600ml skimmed milk or low fat natural yoghurt. 30g Whey Protein.

09:30: 1x piece of fruit.

11:00: 4x oatcakes with about 75g nut butter OR low fat cottage cheese.

13:00: 1x large 250g sweet potato, 400g tin of mixed beans with a handful of broccoli/spinach.

14:30: 20g of protein (shake, bar, eggs, cold cuts). 1x Omega 3 fish oil supplement.

16:15: 1x large Cajun spiced chicken breast with 250g of wholegrain rice. 1x portion of mixed veg (fresh or frozen).

17:45-19:00: 75g of carbohydrate powder with possible pre work out and sip before the session. 1x Omega 3 fish oil supplement.

19:00-20:00: BCAAS during the session. Make sure to maintain hydration.

20:30: 30g Whey Protein. Take 1x Omega 3 fish oil supplement. 1x banana.

21:00: Extra small meal if necessary. Example: 3 egg omelette with mushrooms and mixed pepper.

NB: Aim to drink an additional 2 litres of water on top of what is included with your shakes.

SUMMARY:

In order to achieve optimum rugby performance, correct and adequate nutrition is essential. There are four main areas to focus on which are; carbohydrate, protein, fat and hydration.  On a rugby specific training day you would need to carb load and hydrate slightly more than usual and the example diet plan provided is based on this.

The diet plan incorporates all areas of general and sports specific nutrition, such as:

• Appropriate supplements

• Eating regularly to maintain metabolism

• Fast and slow release energy foods

• Includes essential fats

• Recovery foods

• Sufficient fluid to stay hydrated

• The FSA EatWell Plate recommendations

• Varied sources of nutrients