Melbourne Rebel’s nutritionist Rebekah Alcock believes a sharpened focus on nutrition quality and the adjustment of caloric intake has players prepared to hit the ground running for the recommencement of season 2020.
In her individual consults with players, Alcock has stressed the team focus on being attentive to their individual nutritional goals.
“Whole foods - foods that are as close as possible to their natural form, such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products, whole-grain breads, and lean meats including seafood - are really important over this period as they are involved in supporting the immune system and general health.
“Players also need to ensure that their energy intake meets their energy expenditures; that they are fueling adequately for performance, that recovery nutrition is being met and that they continue to maintain good body composition for their position.”
One player closely monitoring his specific nutritional goals is Cameron Orr, who acknowledges a decrease in physical expenditure has forced him to readjust his caloric intake.
“My focus during this lockdown has been limiting the amount of calorie dense foods and keeping protein levels up high.
“With a drop in training load, it’s been essential to maintain a good playing weight so when rugby starts back up, I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Orr said.
When Alcock’s not working her magic down at the Stockade, the PhD holder can be found sharing her expertise with AAMI Park neighbours, the Melbourne Demons.
However, despite sharing the same address, the two clubs carry vastly different nutritional requirements.
“An obvious difference is the body composition of the athletes, which is evident when you look at forwards compared to backs, and then compare both of these physiques to the typical AFL athlete.
“The amount of running per game for AFL athletes is also significantly higher than in rugby union athletes, so fueling is a pretty large focus in AFL both during training and competition.
“Another difference is that athletes in rugby union travel internationally, whilst AFL athletes compete domestically.“With travel comes a whole host of nutritional considerations such as food safety, altitude and jet lag,” said Alcock.
For many, this state of confinement has led to irregular eating patterns, characterised by frequent snacking on nutritionally poor foods.
Alcock believes maintaining a consistent daily meal schedule will assist in minimising such patterns – however, if you’re to snack, there’s a range of healthy alternatives available, light on energy density and rich in vitamins and minerals.
“If you do tend to snack between meals, choose options such as cut up vegetable sticks, fruit, high-protein, low sugar yoghurt, air popped popcorn or a handful of nuts.
“Hot drinks can be an option if you are tempted to snack throughout the day and can help with hydration (which tends to suffer during the colder months).”
“But not skipping meals will ultimately help to prevent snacking.”