A proper diet is essential for the success of the athlete in any sport. Those who play rugby need to have a well-balanced diet in order to reach their maximum potential on the pitch. The saying “you are what you eat” holds true in this case; the more refined sugars and processed food you eat, the worse you’ll play. However, a healthy diet with plenty of fresh foods will help you excel.
Generally, your body’s needs will change throughout the season as training changes. You eating should meet practice and training loads in-season and off-season the keep up with performance goals. Nutritious carbohydrates, protein, and nutrient-rich whole foods are great for every rugby athlete.
Before: It’s crucial to prepare your body for a match by eating a pre-game meal. Your body will thank you during the game! Make sure that your meal is at a time suitable for you before the match; some suggest eating 3-4 hours before game time. Consume carbohydrates, fluids and a small amount of protein to prevent hunger later on. Eat something that you know will sit well in your stomach, the last thing you need is to feel unwell right before you take the field.
During: Hydration is key while playing a match. Take a sip of water or sports drink as needed to replenish your hydration needs. Even though you might feel like you don’t need more fluids, you probably do. Sneak a snack in during half time to replenish any energy needs. Simple carbohydrates, carbohydrate gels, and fruit are all great options for nutrition during a match.
After: Eating is important after both games and training sessions. Right after you’re done competing, consume a good amount of protein to make sure your muscles are repairing and recovering. Also, nutrient-rich carbohydrates should be consumed to help replenish glycogen used during physical activity. When you have multiple sessions in one week, this is even more important. You can’t expect your body to perform at top levels if you don’t eat the right foods.
Proper diet and nutrition will help you reach top-notch performance levels during games as well as training sessions.