Earlier this week, Tigers caught up with Oval Park training ground head chef Jackie Bexon as part of Childhood Obesity week to share her top tips for getting kids eating healthily.
This year, Tigers and Global Payments Healthy Schools programme has visited 14 primary schools across Leicestershire this school year taking over lessons for one week teaching youngsters about the benefits of healthy eating and living.
Working close with the team in the kitchen at Oval Park is Tigers head of strength and conditioning, Alex Martin creating diet plans and exercise programmes for each player.
We caught up with him to hear how about the work that goes into keeping the lads fuelled throughout the season.
How are the nutrition plans for players worked out?
“The nutrition plan for the players is largely based on the different periods of the season.
“For example in-season, with a busy match schedule, the emphasis is placed more on carbohydrates and protein to help the players’ fuel and recover appropriately compared to the pre-season where there are no matches. Players may have specific nutrition goals.”
How are the plan put into practise?
“We make many suggestions on types of foods we would like included on our menu but Jackie, together with her team in the kitchen, is responsible for combining all the chosen foods into dishes that are both visually appealing and tasty.
“These two factors are paramount as it obviously encourages the players to eat onsite and provides them with ideas for cooking at home.”
How do the right foods help the lifestyle of rugby players?
“Being a high intensity contact sport rugby demands a lot of the players. Their ability to choose the right types of foods to aid their recovery is of the utmost importance. Regular intakes of protein help the players not only build muscle during the season but repair it after matches ready for training the week after.”
Good food v bad food?
We promote a food first approach advocating whole foods and encouraging a varied diet combining all the different food groups: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources and healthy fats.
“Players then have wholesome foods with good vitamin and mineral content to support things like energy production, immunity, bone health and the maintenance of their nerves.
“We avoid things like fast foods and unhealthy drinks and snacks such as chocolates, crisps, soft drinks and doughnuts. These are all laden with extra added sugars and fats that are not beneficial for performance or health and can affect recovery.”