Ask Scott: Nutrition is as much about when you eat as what you eat
Top fitness coach Scott Pearson answers your health and fitness questions.
People often think there's a big difference between the diet of a professional sportsman and the man in the street but it's not as different as you might think.
Of course, there are specific diets for specific players. Our lads also tend to eat a lot more because they're in training. Some of the players do 4-5 training sessions a day. But in general the advice I give the lads is the same as I would give anyone.
At breakfast you're recovering from sleep. This may sound daft but sleep is when the body recuperates and repairs itself so you can burn a fair bit of energy. You want to start the day with low GI carbohydrates, some protein and plenty of liquids. GI stands for Glycemic index. Low GI foods are those which release their energy into the body more slowly and steadily. High GI foods are those which give you a fast short hit.
Low GI foods for breakfast includes most fruit and vegetables (though not potatoes), rice, oats and bran. For your protein try scrambled eggs or ham or dairy products like yoghurt
For lunch the players are recovering from training and preparing for the afternoon training. Again we'd go for low GI carbs though with less emphasis on fruit. We'll have rice or pasta.
In the late afternoon, the players have a snack and this time a higher GI carb is OK — a sugary drink or shake. Sometimes we even have cola bottles — the chewy sweets. But you'll also want protein too. High GI carbs and protein - a ham and jam sandwich is one way to do it!
You can make your own high GI carb/protein shake with some soft fruits, milk and yoghurt and a little protein powder.
We have a sponsorship deal with EAS and they do a range of protein powders called Myoplex.
We use EAS proteins because they come with a dope-free guarantee which is obviously essential in an International Olympic Committee-regulated sport like rugby. In my career I've only ever seen one rugby player fail a dope test and that was when a young player bought an off the shelf supplement at the gym. We just can't afford to take that risk.
In the evening your metabolism is slowing down so you need to reduce the carbs. For your evening meal, go for protein — chicken or fish, beans or pulses — and this is the time of day for your vitamins and minerals — plenty of fruit.
This is where many people go wrong. They tend to eat more for dinner than for lunch and particularly they tend to eat more carbohydrates. It should be the other way round.
People often ask about dietary supplements and whether they're necessary. Some of our players take specific supplements depending on their training goals and the whole team takes a vitamin and mineral supplement to boost the individual's immune system.
This is because our players are with each other all the time so it's a bit like a school classroom: if one person gets a cold, they all do. Also, if you're exercising like our lads are, you need a fair bit more than the RDA or recommended daily allowance of a vitamin. We therefore use a strong, good-quality supplement.
Everyday vitamin supplements of the sort you buy in the supermarket don't tend to be absorbed very well. You just pee them away. A fibre-encased supplement like the bran-encased US brand Solray which we use is better for absorption. In fact, one way you can tell whether or not a vitamin supplement is being absorbed or not is that it should, if it's working, change the colour of your urine a little. With Solray, it goes fluorescent yellow!
Page created on April 4th, 2007
Page updated on January 18th, 2010