An interactive workshop to provide coaches of young rugby players with up-to-date sports nutritional information took place in Thomond Park Stadium in Limerick on Wednesday.
Organised jointly by the IRFU and the National Dairy Council as part of the ‘Milk it For All It’s Worth’ campaign, it set out to up-skill coaches working with players ranging from about 12-16 years of age, providing practical nutritional advice which can help to improve sports performance to the best of each young person’s ability.
Performance nutritionists, who work with professional rugby players and understand the nutrition demands specifically for rugby, delivered the technical content of the workshop.
Emma McCrudden, performance nutritionist, told coaches at the workshop that the core concepts of performance nutrition are relatively easy for anyone from any sport or age group to grasp.
“But the true professional athlete understands why nutrition can optimise performance which allows them to control this aspect of performance,” said Ms McCrudden.
Ruth Wood-Martin, IRFU performance nutritionist, explained: “Food is the fuel used to support growth in young players as well as providing for the extra energy demand of exercise.
“The main fuels used during exercise are fat and carbohydrate, and both of these fuels are stored in the muscles that allow them to work during exercise.
“Without sufficient amounts of the right type of fuel, every athlete’s ability to perform in sport will suffer.”
Ms Wood-Martin said that the timing of food intake to best prepare for exercise and recovery after exercise is important.
“The aim before exercise is to top-up energy stores (called glycogen in muscle and liver) and maintain steady blood sugar levels,” she explained.
“After exercise, the key is to re-fuel the energy stores that have been used up during the exercise session, and provide the right mix of nutrients to support physical adaptations that happen as a result of the exercise.”
The role of fluids in achieving good hydration was also explored. Emma McCrudden said that fluid is vital for life and makes up over half of the body weight.
“Exercise increases heat production in the body. Good hydration helps to maintain an efficient cooling system, allowing players to sweat effectively to keep body temperature under control,” said Ms McCrudden.
“Dehydration due to a lack of fluid availability will result in over-heating and ultimately can affect the ability to continue with high intensity exercise.”
Dr Catherine Logan, nutrition manager for the National Dairy Council, said that this Milk It For All Its Worth project provided practical information resources to rugby coaches of teenagers on how a varied diet and adequate dairy intake are important parts of a healthy active lifestyle, and about the role of appropriate sports nutrition in helping to enhance performance.
“This joint regional seminar is timely as more and more research demonstrates potential for milk and dairy foods in sports nutrition – for example research reported from Loughborough University highlights the effectiveness of skimmed milk as a rehydration drink after sports, in addition to research from Northumbria University highlighting the beneficial role of milk in muscle recovery,” said Dr. Logan.
“Such results are welcomed by the dairy industry and we are closely monitoring further developments in these areas of research.”
Milk It For All It’s Worth is the theme of a three-year EU funded ‘Milk in Action’ campaign, a collaborative venture between the National Dairy Council (Ireland), the Dairy Council (England and Wales) and the Dairy Council (Northern Ireland).
The ‘Milk In Action’ programme in Ireland is co-funded by the European Union, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and by the industry with funds raised through NDC members in Ireland.
The campaign is implemented under Council Regulation (EC) No 3/2008 on information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products on the internal market and in third countries.
Related Links –