Energy Intake and Expenditure Assessed ‘In-Season’ in an Elite European Rugby Union Squad

Bradley, W. J.; Cavanagh, B.; Douglas, W.; Donovan, T. F.; Twist, C.; Morton, J. P.; Close, G. L.

In-season training load using global positioning system (GPS) and session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) was measured in 44 elite rugby union (RU) players, alongside six-day assessments of energy intake (EI) and energy expenditure (EE). The results showed that mean weekly distance covered and total mean weekly sRPE were higher for forwards compared to backs. Mean weekly EI and EE were also recorded, with carbohydrate (CHO), protein, and fat intake measured in grams per kilogram of body mass.

The findings indicated that players tended to self-select a ‘low’ CHO and ‘high’ protein diet during the early part of the week, with CHO intake increasing in the days leading up to a match. This dietary pattern was observed to match the mean EI with EE. Based on the observed EE and training load data, the EI and composition appeared appropriate, suggesting that the diet may be suitable for maintaining match-day performance.

However, the study highlighted the need for further research to evaluate whether this dietary approach optimizes performance on match days. Understanding the physiological demands and nutritional requirements of elite RU players during the competitive season can aid in developing personalized dietary strategies to support performance and recovery.

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