Eat, Train, Recover – Nutrition for Recovery in Rugby – by Ben Coomber
November 19, 20164 min read
Over to the Awesome Ben Coomber for part 2 of his series of blogs on nutrition for rugbystuff.com.
"In the first part of this blog series I talked about the basic considerations for nutrition with regard to your performance on the rugby pitch and the training ground.
Now I want to get a little more specific about an often overlooked aspect of health and fitness and that’s recovery.
If you are well recovered after a match or training session it stands to reason that you will perform well the next time you strap on your boots.
The basics are so important, this is the base of the pyramid and if you get this part wrong then everything else will be a waste of time.
What are the basics?
Eat a predominantly whole food diet with plenty of vegetables and I do mean PLENTY! Aim for around 5-7 portions of different veggies a day. Different coloured veg contain different micronutrients and fibres which will help to keep your immune system strong and your digestion effective.
Be well rested between periods of heavy activity. I know what it’s like as a keen sportsman and you don’t necessarily like sitting around and feel either guilty or just sluggish when you don’t train, but it’s important for your body to get some rest in order for specific adaptations to take place.
Sleep is a big part of this so do your best to create a routine that optimizes your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Aim to go to bed at the same time each night, give yourself enough time to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
It may help you to do some relaxation exercises before bed, to write a journal entry or job list to help relax your mind and to avoid caffeine after 5pm (or earlier if you are sensitive to it).
Don’t confuse high energy levels with pent up nervous energy this might indicate that you are actually running on adrenaline most of the time and will put your body under a significant amount of physiological stress so find ways to calm your mind and relax your body.
Make sure you’re well hydrated. As a highly active sports person your need for fluid is greater than the average person. The following equation will help you to determine how much water you should be drinking. 28 x weight in kg.
An 80kg rugby player needs (28 x 80) = 2,240ml a-day (add extra for exercise)
Of course, this is a guide and your needs will vary depending on levels of activity, food consumed and air temperature. So, I usually say aim for 2-3 litres a day with an additional 500ml-1L on training/match days.
It’s useful to have some electrolytes in your bottle during training or matches to help replace some of the lost minerals and improve absorption. Awesome Supplements do electrolyte powders that you can add to your water and they come with or without carbs, you can find them HERE.
If your diet isn’t great you may consider taking a multi-vitamin like Awesome Supplements Daily Dose but I would always encourage you to get your diet on point as best you can.
Magnesium is a common mineral deficiency in athletic populations and is responsible for over 300 physiological processes in the body. Magnesium also acts as a muscle relaxant, can reduce the risk of cramps and post exercise soreness. I am a big fan of transdermal magnesium because it by passes the digestive tract where a lot of the minerals are lost. Awesome Recovery Spray contains magnesium and zinc for this very reason and limits how much you are sore the day after training, or more importantly, the day after a game. Trust me, I promise it will help, never had a rugby player not say it helps, grab a bottle HERE and see how much better you feel after game day now.
Make time for some active recovery activities such as light stretching or yoga. Going for walks or some other form of light cardio on recovery days. Foam rolling can help to increase blood flow to your tired muscles or just taking time to sit and appreciate little quiet time.
Lastly, and I wouldn’t be a rugby player if I didn’t mention this, but try not to get too pissed too much. Yeah, I know we love a beer or 6 after a match but if you really want to recover well and perform at your best I strongly advise you to exercise a little restraint. You may black out and sleep for 10 hours after a bender but it’s not restful sleep and the dehydration caused by excessive alcohol consumption can be pretty brutal.
Have a couple of pints with your mates and then go home for a roast dinner with the family, combine that with my previous advice, some recovery spray, and I primise you will be recoverin better in no time."
Ben Coomber is a performance nutritionist (BSc, ISSN), educator, speaker and writer. Ben has the UK’s #1 rated health and fitness podcast on iTunes ‘Ben Coomber Radio’ with regular Q&A’s and expert interviews. Ben also run’s Body Type Nutrition, an online nutrition coaching company that also runs a multi-level, online nutrition course, the BTN Academy. Ben also owns Awesome Supplements, a brand offering clarity in the confusing world of supplements. Connect with Ben over on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram.