Snack time

As a rugby player your main dietary goal is to ensure that you eat enough to cover the energy demands of training.

Obviously, this energy needs to come from the right types of foods – in other words those foods that build muscle; help to maximise energy usage and promote recovery; and foods that provide nutrients that boost your immunity and help to fight fatigue.

It is impossible to meet all these needs by only eating three meals a day. Snacking between meals is therefore an essential part of your eating regime. This smaller, more frequent meal pattern will also maintain good energy levels throughout the day and will also help to prevent indigestion and heartburn (a frequent complaint with rugby players!).

Practical tips:

  • Good snacks ideally provide a good source of carbohydrate and protein with fat contributing the least amount of calories.
  • Read labels to check and compare the fat content of different snacks. As a general guide always choose snacks that contain less than 5g fat for every 30-50g carbohydrate.
  • Fruit and dairy products are excellent snacks because they are good sources of fibre, vitamins, minerals and in the case of dairy, calcium and protein.
Snacks Better alternatives
Chocolates, toffee, fudge Breakfast bars, low fat energy and sports bars; soya bars; dried fruit, fresh fruit
Potato crisps, nuts Unbuttered popcorn and pretzels
Butter biscuits or cream-filled biscuits Marie and finger biscuits, Rice crackers, cream crackers, Provita, bread sticks
Cakes, pastries, doughnuts Pancakes, muffins, crumpets (Brumpets), hot cross buns, raisin bread
Ice cream, double thick milkshake Frozen yoghurt, ice lollies, low fat fruit yoghurt low fat maas, buttermilk, soya milks and yoghurts and low fat smoothies (milk- and fruit shakes); breakfast cereal & low fat milk/yoghurt; fruit salad and sorbet or frozen yoghurt
Sausage rolls, meat pies, dried sausage, vetkoek, chip rolls, KFC Toasted sandwich (no butter) with low fat cheese, chicken, tuna, egg; peanut butter and jam sandwich (no butter); mashed banana on bread; 1 minute noodles; lean biltong or biltong sandwich; baked beans or sweetcorn on toast

Source: Practical Nutrition for Rugby by Dieticians Shelley Meltzer and Cecily Fuller, courtesy SA Rugby.

(Health24, August 2011)

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