Another hot topic when it comes to young athletes, to go with strength and conditioning, is nutrition and supplements. Parents want their kids to reach their full potential and a big part of this is by trying to make sure that they explore every possible means to get them performing at their peak. Rugby nutrition for kids should however not be based on hype, but the health of your child.
When it comes to this subject the answers are however far more straight forward than you might think.
So what should my young rugby player be eating?
For any growing child, the best possible nutrition is to get balanced homemade food. That sounds a little too simple, but let me explain.
In our fast-paced society, it is always easier to frequently stop at a drive-thru to get a meal or to pick up a prepared meal from a store.
These are however the biggest culprits in trying to balance the nutrition of a child.
These meals are always overly processed, laden with flavorings and preservatives, contain too much fat and are often filled with too much sugar and salt. Many of them taste good, but what you are tasting is often chemically enhanced to taste the way it does.
The side effects of food like this contribute greatly to child obesity. Has much lower nutritional value and has nasty side effects like bad skin. Later in life, there is also far worse side effects that you can get from foods like these, which include diabetes and in many cases cancer.
Finding good nutrition options for our rugby players with our busy days
The first thing to do is to buy a manageable amount of fruit that they can snack on. The sooner they get used to fruit the better. Packed with a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and fiber you cover a lot of bases.
Full cream yogurt. Not the low-fat versions. They go through a lot of processing to get them like that and then there is always a lot of sugar added. The plain options if possible, otherwise the ones that contain pieces of fruit. It offers calcium and protein as well as good bacteria for healthy digestion
The staples: bread and eggs. Bread is not the devil. If a couple of slices are eaten daily your child will have a large store of carbohydrates to keep them going throughout an active day. Most bread also contains protein and some B vitamins. If they are active they get will burn through those carbs efficiently every day. The eggs are a great and cost-effective option for loads of protein
A normal homecooked meal. Once a day, usually for dinner it would be best if they get a homecooked meal. Simply make sure that there is a protein, two vegetables and a starch on the plate.
That is it. Nothing more needed.
Planning the preparation of the food would be your biggest hurdle, by Googling “meal prep ideas” will give you plenty of options to prepare for most of the meals.
The reason why this is all there is to it when it comes to rugby nutrition for kids, is that all of the ingredients would be natural and filled with natural nutrients. Eating a variety of foods as mentioned above doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, but you need to plan a bit and get comfortable with the idea of some meal prep.
This should ALWAYS be a cornerstone for any rugby player of any age.
Rugby supplements for my kids: is it necessary?
For most younger rugby players it is absolutely not necessary. It is not necessary to even consider this before the age of 15 or 16.
The foundation for players under this age should be good nutrition as it would support all of their developmental needs.
Once they reach the age of 16 you can start to add some supplementation for them. It is never advisable to try and give them every conceivable supplement under the sun that you see on Instagram from models and athletes. Many are laden with chemicals that can be harmful.
There are two supplements that I would suggest you consider:
- An omega 3 supplement – fish oil or flaxseed oil is ideal as it is all-natural. It offers great support both for joint development and support as well as brain health. Simply check the label to see that it is the only ingredient. Nothing else should be added
- Whey protein – as a player starts gaining muscle mass it is important to have nutritional support for this. To help in the repair of the lean muscle gain and to maintain it. Also, check the tub you are buying that it contains only a handful of ingredients with whey as the main ingredients. These are often fortified with other amino acids, but should not contain anything else
Other supplements are most popular as a result of the hype generated around it. Supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry globally and they need to sell more and more products!
If you focus on a good nutrition plan built on regular food and supplement it only with the above-mentioned supplements, your bases are covered.
You will receive all of the protein, carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need to achieve your goals as a rugby player.