Nutrition in rugby used to be all about how many pints of beer you drank after a game – these days, however, both professional and amateur rugby players realize that if they pay more attention to their nutrition, they can play longer and harder, have less injuries, even prolong their playing career.
Rugby places unique demands on players. While size is a crucial factor, modern rugby players also need to be fast, and with the pace at which the game can be played today, there is also a premium on endurance. The right training – and the nutrition to support it – are essential if you wish to be competitive.
If you need to bulk up, then it is essential to get enough protein. Protein supplies the amino acids that muscles need to grow – if you don’t get enough protein, much of the effort you put into training will be wasted.
The number one choice of protein for building and maintaining muscle is whey. Whey is the fastest digesting protein available – meaning it gets to your muscles quickly – has a great amino acid profile, and also supports your immune system. It is also low in fat and carbohydrates, so you can add muscle without also adding unnecessary body fat.
But training for rugby isn’t just about adding bulk. Forwards need to be able to jump in the line out, as well as get around the field to support rucks and mauls. Backs, on the other hand, need to combine size with the speed and agility to evade would be tacklers.
The sheer variety of skills needed means that training is intense, so fast recovery is essential. Getting the right combination of fluids, protein, carbs, and amino acids like L-glutamine into the system right after training or a match is the best way to be ready for the next big effort, so paying attention to recovery nutrition is vital.