Catherine Norton is the head of performance nutrition at Munster Rugby. Her job consists in looking after nutrition for the players and ensuring that they are available to train and play each week.
Athletes are expected to train a few times a day, most days a week. They need to have recovered well from what they have completed and be well fuelled for the next session. In this context the ideal product contains carbohydrate to replace what has been used up, and protein to support gains in lean mass after strength training. The scientific research in this area recommends 50g of carbohydrate and 20g of protein.
At Munster they adopt a Food First approach, that is to say where they look to food items first to support players’ needs. They focus on whole foods, largely unprocessed and free from unnecessary additives.
“You can get everything you need from whole food sources, and by avoiding taking supplements you are minimizing risks of damaging your own health. It is important that performance nutritionists don’t forget that foods they give their athletes need to taste good too!”
“We use Temple Dairy Chocolate Milk as a recovery product after training. It gives exactly the right amounts of the necessary nutrients, it is convenient to use, can be thrown in a kit bag and taken on the go, and it tastes great. The players feel like they are getting a treat and I’m happy that their nutritional needs are met.”
Her 5 tips for best athletic performance:
1. Don’t skip meals,
2. Make sure they have good sources of protein, carbohydrate and vegetables or fruit groups.
3. Snack with intent: if you have a 60 minutes training session you need to snack on something that fuels you for this.
4. Your meals and snacks should be nutrient dense to get best results.
5. Look after hydration. Milk and water are both recommended fluids.