Nutrition off the menu for rugby players

A recent study into the body composition, nutritional knowledge, behaviours, attitudes and educational needs of senior schoolboy rugby players in Ireland, has revealed that despite a positive attitude, poor nutritional knowledge and dietary practices were observed in many players.

Assessment of the study group’s knowledge of nutritional requirements demonstrated poor understanding of the foods required for refueling, appropriate use of sports drinks and the role of protein in muscle formation.

Worryingly the understanding of the importance of correct nutrition in those players who had actually sought advice was no better than those who didn’t, reinforcing the perception that the advice being given may frequently be inaccurate or inappropriate.

Moreover, despite being advised most frequently on the protein requirements for sport, this was the area in which most players had a deficit in nutritional knowledge,

Even those with a higher level of nutritional knowledge were not always able to use their knowledge correctly and often made contradictory choices.

For example, although the vast majority of players in this study believed that increasing muscle mass is essential to improving rugby performance, only just over a third believed that heavier players play rugby more successfully than lighter ones.

Similarly, although participants appeared aware of the importance of carbohydrate consumption immediately after exercise, they demonstrated poor applied knowledge, with just under two-thirds believing incorrectly that steak and salad is a good refueling meal.

The study, published in the October Issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, reported that despite demonstrating a positive attitude toward nutrition, many players demonstrated poor nutritional knowledge and dietary practices and concluded that most would benefit from receiving specialized information on the subject.

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