Rugby World

I featured in a short Q&A in Rugby World magazine recently with client Sam Warburton on behalf of MSC Nutrition. The key messages have been highlighted below.

What you will learn:

  • The basic role of nutrition in athletic performance
  • Both mine & Sam’s biggest nutritional challenges
  • An insight into Sam’s supplement strategy

Who this is applicable to:

  • Anyone with an interest in performance nutrition
  • Aspiring rugby players
  • Current rugby players

Who should not read this:

  • People not interested in nutrition?

Enjoy, and please leave feedback. I am open to critique, it is the only way I will ever improve as a practitioner, coach, and as a person.

  • What role do you feel nutrition plays in your performance?

I realise that nutrition plays a fundamental role in not only body composition or performance, but in health too. Nutrition stems well beyond simply providing energy and creating new cells, nutrition plays a vital role in the prevention of certain diseases, cell signalling and even the rate of bone metabolism. As a nutritionist it is my role to convince individuals of its importance. From an athletic performance perspective nutrition plays a fundamental role in the provision of energy before and during, ensuring cells are adequately hydrated throughout and sufficient energy and amino acids are available to aid and enhance recovery following an exercise bout.

  • What are the greatest challenges you face from a nutritional perspective?

The biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is hitting my elevated protein requirements. Research has demonstrated that current government guidelines for protein intake have been significantly underestimated, with the most recent research suggesting that resistance trained, athletic individuals could require upwards of 2.5 g/kg body mass to increase or maintain muscle mass throughout a season. Consuming this amount of protein in a day, especially when away from home is difficult, with most restaurants and eateries generally offering carbohydrate and fat dominant meals; that’s where supplemental protein such as MSC probiotic whey is extremely handy.

  • What supplements currently feature in your programme?

At the moment my supplement strategy is pretty basic as my training volume is fairly low, I currently use the MSC immune support which is essentially a multivitamin, omega-3 – fish oil, whey and creatine monohydrate. Sometimes regenerate when I can’t access food.

  • What one piece of nutrition advice would you offer to an aspiring rugby player?

I would advise all players to focus on developing an in depth knowledge of the nutrition basics and how to apply them; the basics being your individual requirement for energy (kcal’s), the macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat and also the micronutrients. Calculate your requirements and then hit them daily. Track your nutritional intake daily using either a spreadsheet or an online application such as myfitnesspal. Well-applied basics are going to have the greatest performance enhancing effect especially in younger athletes. Young players often focus on the more intricate aspects of nutrition and are often mislead by the supplement industry and their often-overhyped claims, and they overlook the fundamental components of nutrition. Supplements have their place, especially high quality, evidence-based products such as MSC, but focussing on supplemental nutrition prior to developing an understanding of the basics is a big issue. If you struggle then seek the help of a professional nutritionist.