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Stay fleet of foot with a proper rugby players diet

Part of the appeal of rugby used to be that it tolerated the chunkier player. Indeed a beer belly and a few extra chins were occasionally seen as assets in the amateur game. That is all changing, as professionalism in the sport has brought an awareness of the ideal rugby players diet.

Some of the players you are watching in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand might look, shall we say, substantial, but the professionals have worked on their calorie intake with expert dieticians, and their meals have been carefully planned to accentuate fitness and stamina for the demands of a high-pressure 80 minute match.

If you are looking down at your midriff and wondering whether turning some of that flab into muscle might improve your rugby performance, there are plenty of nutritional tips online. Start at www.bodybuilding.com, where there is specific advice on nutrition for rugby players.

A key issue for professionals is the glycaemic index of the carbohydrates they eat. Just before a match players should take high GI snacks like fruit, chocolate bars or glucose drinks. For sustained energy intake, low GI foods form a significant part of meals, in the form of brown rice, pasta or wholemeal breads.

Fats are not to be avoided, but should be taken in moderation, from sources like oily fish, nuts and meat. Protein is also vital, and best obtained from chicken, turkey or tuna.

Beer, sadly, is not a fundamental part of the rugby players diet. For optimum match performance hydration levels need to be at their peak and alcohol has a notorious dehydrating effect. It should certainly be avoided for 24 hours before a match. Nobody is saying you can't have a couple of pints afterwards . . .

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