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Fluid & Nutrition > Nutrition Plan

Rugby League Nutrition Plan Guidelines
A meal containing a protein source and a combination of carbohydrates should be eaten within an hour of finishing a game or training session
After a hard session or match, fruits, sandwiches, and protein shakes start the refueling process
Review your protein intake - you probably need a bit more if you are training hard and playing regularly
Emphasize low-GI, carbohydrate-rich foods rather than high-GI foods in your normal diet.
Eat high-GI foods-bananas, sports drinks, pasta, for example-immediately after exercising
Eat fewer refined and simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and sugar.
Eat smaller meals and eat more often to encourage stable energy and blood sugar levels.
Eat as much variety as possible - instead of focusing on wheat based products (such as cereals, breads and snack bars), try rye bread, oats or quinoa flakes instead
Eat complex carbohydrates three hours before a competition or hard training session.
Fitness 4 Sport recommends that you always make dietary changes under the guidance of a professional and consult your GP before you start

To optimise your energy stores for games aim to increase your carbohydrate intake to 10g/kg bodyweight during the 3 days prior to the game and taper your training

The Glycaemic Index
Considering the influence of different types of carbohydrate foods is fundamental in your Nutrition Plan. Coaches and players are now recognising the importance of the Glycaemic Index. The Glycaemic Index provides a guideline for measuring the speed of energy release into the blood stream. Certain foods are rated with a high glycaemic index while others are low, and most fall in between.

The different types of carbohydrates vary in their rates of absorption, digestion, and influence on blood sugar levels. A food's glycemic index (GI) is used to describe the rate at which the food raises blood glucose levels. High-GI foods, such as white bread and honey, rapidly increase blood sugar and trigger the production of large amounts of insulin to counteract the rise. Low-GI carbohydrates, such as apples, porridge, oats, and lentils, have a slower rate of sugar absorption and therefore produce less insulin. Low-GI-carbohydrate-rich foods are more appropriate sources of energy for fueling training and competition, and they reduce the likelihood of carbohydrate intake increasing body fat amounts.

Protein
Rugby League players require a greater intake of protein than sedentary people do because protein builds muscle and helps to repair muscle damaged during contact or weight training. Protein is also an energy source, although that is not its primary role. It can be burned as a backup fuel to produce energy when glycogen levels are in short supply-like the crucial last 10 minutes of a tough game.

Similar to that for carbohydrates, protein intake should be regulated according to body weight and the amounts of strength, power, and contact training in the program. Players who want to increase or maintain muscle mass while following a demanding conditioning program require up to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight in their diet each day. Because it's difficult to take in enough meat, dairy products, and other protein-rich foods to meet that requirement in a day, many players use protein drinks (whey protein powder mixed with nonfat or low-fat milk or water) to help them reach this level of intake.

© Fitness 4 Rugby League 2005. Fitness 4 Rugby League is part of the Fitness 4 Sport network of web sites. The author and Fitness 4 Sport LLP take no responsibility for injuries caused by attempting the guidelines and exercises presented on this web site. Fitness 4 Sport LLP recommends that you always learn new exercises or dietary changes under the guidance of a professional and consult your GP before you start

 

 
TOP TIP
High-GI foods are beneficial immediately after exercise because they help the blood sugar quickly return to a normal level.
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FACT FILE
Alcohol hampers not only hydration and energy replenishment, but also the repair of tissue damaged by contact
Guidelines for pre-match meals
eat a main meal at least 3 hours prior to kick-off, focusing on carbohydrate rich foods with a small protein source
a small snack such as an apple 1½ hours before kick-off
avoid very high protein and fat foods
drink plenty of fluid
experiment with foods during training to find what suits you best
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