The Key Ingredients
31st August 2011 By Munster Rugby
Nutritionist Graeme Close has worked with the Munster Rugby squad for over three seasons, commuting from Liverpool John Moores University where he lectures in exercise metabolism & sports nutrition, he consults with players about their diets on a one-on-one and group basis.
When players travel and partake in squad sessions meals are specifically prepared and readily available in keeping with a professional rugby player’s diet. But Graeme Close and Munster’s Head of Fitness Bryce Cavanagh wanted to address players’ eating habits when at home and during rest periods.
The first exercise saw players invited to local supermarkets in Cork and Limerick where Graeme was on hand to informatively guide the players through the aisles from fruit & veg, wheat, cereals & grains, to meat, fish, dairy and juices – the frozen food aisles were off limits!
“We wanted to do this to show players that they are not restricted to having the same food all the time, and that there are far more options out there. In keeping with an active lifestyle we need to ensure that the players are eating right, and this starts at knowing what to choose and selecting the correct foods.”
“We wanted to educate the players about reading food labels, learning about the different sources of carbs and protein, and provide tips for food preparation and additional recipe ideas. There is quite a difference in what players can eat in preparation for a match, recovering after a game and on gym days.”
Another exercise includes a number of the squad taking part in a Munster version of the “Come Dine with Me” series where players prepare three course meals specific to rugby diets. Management and other squad members act as judges giving points for taste, nutritional value, presentation and cleanliness.
“We wanted to create a fun environment where the players can use their skills and what they have learned to cook quality meals. I also get the opportunity to examine the fridge and cupboards to see how they are stocked!”
“We are trying to get the guys to move away from convenient and refined foods, to making their own. I found there has been a positive response already with players asking questions during the shopping expeditions, and at the dinner evenings we get the chance to have an informal chat about their general nutrition.”
In Cork Scott Deasy and Ian Nagle were first up cooking, with Graeme, Danny Barnes and Simon Zebo in attendance as judges, while in Limerick it was a three man operation with Declan Cusack, Mike Sherry and Paddy Butler entertaining Graeme, Munster rehab physiotherapist Colm Coakley and Tommy O’Donnell.
The Munster Come Dine with Me evenings will continue during the season with final results and winners revealed at the end on munsterrugby.ie.
Peter O'Mahony, John Ryan, Dave O'Callaghan, Duncan Williams, Simon Zebo, Stephen Archer and Ian Nagle with Graeme Close in Tesco, Wilton