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mens rugby nutrition workshop feature

Men's Rugby nutrition workshop: pre-season 2017

Spotlight on support service providers-Renee McGregor (nutrition)

Renee McGregor, sports nutritionist and dietician has worked with the University of Exeter High Performance Programme on a consultant basis for the last 3 years.  

Having provided nutritional support to the GB rhythmic gymnasts and a number of other Team GB athletes for the London 2012 games, in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic games, Renee worked with marathon athletes, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair basketball.  With the University of Exeter men’s rugby season in full swing we caught up with Renee, who delivered their first practical workshop last week…

What do you enjoy most about working with student athletes?

“Student life is often a huge time of change, particularly for freshers. There is so much to balance and juggle. For student athletes, there is also the added complication of training and maintaining their performance in a new but competitive environment. It is an exciting time in terms of providing athletes with guidance and support, establishing good nutritional and training practices which will lead to performance gains during student life but also take them through their entire sports career”

What do you think the biggest challenges are that face student athletes when balancing their sport and academics?

“The biggest challenges are around time; in order for a student athlete to ensure that they can fuel and recover from their sessions sufficiently, to enhance their performance, around their academic study, it does take preparation. One tip I often recommend is getting an athlete to sit down at the weekend and look at the schedule for the following week. In this way they can start to identify key pinch times for nutrition and study. By being aware of this, with a little bit of planning and organisation, they can ensure that they have the appropriate food available so that neither their study nor their performance is hindered”.

What 5 basic store cupboard items would you recommend to student athletes?

“Oats, greek yoghurt, tinned fish, eggs, frozen fruit and vegetables”

What would be the 3 key pieces of nutritional advice you would give a student athlete?

1)      Bulk cook or prepare -during pre-season I worked with the Men’s Rugby Union squad and we prepared a couscous salad -the beauty of this meal is the ease - you don’t even need a hob - just a kettle and chopping board. Couscous is very versatile and so if a big batch is made up at the start of the week, it can be kept in the fridge and used for other meals for up to 3 days by alternating the protein and vegetable/salad components.

2)       Use Frozen fruit and vegetables -these are picked and immediately frozen so retain their vitamin and mineral content; they are also a convenient way of always knowing you have fruit and vegetables available and can be added easily to any meal or snack.

3)      Make a rough plan of what meals you are going to eat so that you can then shop accordingly -having the right food available will mean there is never an excuse to order a takeaway or rely on ready meals.

Renee will work with our University of Exeter High Performance squads and coaches over the rest of pre-season, BUCS and any regional or national competitions. For further recipies and nutritional guidance please see Renee's books: Training Food, Fast Fuel: Food for Running Success or Fast Fuel: Food for Triathlon Success (all available on amazon) and her website.

Date: 14 August 2017