The importance of a Sports Nutritionist


A couple of months ago, in my monthly newsletter, I wrote about why you should bother with a sport nutritionist such as myself. Last night I watched Panorama, where Colin Jackson talked about eating disorders in sport. After watching the program last night, and after calming down a bit; I felt compelled to write a blog to explain the importance of using a nutritionist and why taking the time and money to invest in one now is key to your ongoing health and success with respect to playing rugby.


Now you are probably thinking how is this relevant to me or how is it relevant to rugby? Sorry to burst the bubble but rugby is not immune from this. Research into disordered eating and the syndrome called Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) has been going on for several years. Not only is it not just a female issue but it is also a male issue as well. When 26 professional elite New Zealand Rugby Players were questioned, 4 players binge ate at least once a week, 1 player used pathogenic weight control and 20 players avoided certain foods. All of these are symptoms of disordered eating that can lead to health complications as well as impact their player potential. Further, when adolescent rugby players had their diet assessed, whilst the overall diet was classed as good, it was noted that intake of carbohydrate was below recommendations, there was a low intake of vegetables and high consumption of sugary drinks.


Now, that isn’t to say it is all bad in the rugby world, far from it. However, we do need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and look out for one another. Here is where someone like me can help and below I go through some of the reasons as to why:


  • Only premiership and academy teams get a nutritionist. No, every team right from youth teams, through to weekend recreational teams and onwards up to premiership and international teams all deserve a nutritionist. I want to work with you to educate you on how to optimise your nutrition, however, my primary concern is your ongoing and underlying health. If you don’t make time for your health now, you will have to make time for your illnesses later. I develop nutrition plans that works for you, and your goals to make you a better performing player. Whether that is being able to lift your teammate higher in the line out, being more effective in the scrum or running faster to the try line. Not only do I work with you, but your coaching team as well as your parents if you are a youth athlete.

  • I will just ask coach for advice on nutrition/We can’t afford a nutritionist. The first port of call for any athlete will always be coach. However, research frequently shows that coaches have poor diet choices themselves and advice on nutrition to players and athletes is frequently inadequate.

  • Thanks very much, but I found this online, so will just use that. Sorry, blanket approaches to nutrition will just be a waste of time. How do you know that online plan will work for you and your own personal goals?

  • I am a bloke; it won’t affect me. Studies are showing that relative energy deficiency and not eating enough can also affect male athletes. In male athlete’s energy deficiency and disordered eating affects bone and metabolic health as well as testosterone and endocrine function.

  • Everyone else seems so much fitter and better than me. Everyone is different, everyone responds to a training stimulus differently and adapts at different rates. Embrace your uniqueness and compare against yourself. Do you want to be in the best possible position to do your best performance once fixtures and competitions are back on? Then you need to incorporate nutrition into a training plan that works for you and your goals, even if it is modified. Now is the best time to work on a nutrition strategy that will optimise your performance.

  • I need to build muscle I am just going to hit the gym and weights. If you are trying to build muscle – yes resistance training helps, but just lifting more weights without proper nutritional support won’t get you to your goal. Likewise, getting more protein in the form of shakes isn’t the answer. Did you know that if you eat too much protein it can affect the absorption of other nutrients such as calcium, which is key for bone health? Also, just having extra protein shakes without taking them at the right time will just end up as an expensive way to go the loo.


  • I need to lean up, so I will just eat less, avoid certain foods and carry on training. This is a dangerous route to take as we saw last night, it can affect your health as well as your performance. There are long term implications from not eating enough, from disruption to menstrual cycles/testosterone function right up to osteoporosis. Both of which can be lifelong conditions. By working with a nutritionist, we can develop a plan that enables you to make weight safely without impacting performance or your long-term health. When was the last time you performed at your best whilst feeling hungry or below par?

  • I will just keep on training and I will get better. Are you though? How do you know you are eating enough and enough of the right nutrients in the right quantity, at the right time? Are you sleeping well at night and are you drinking enough fluids? Someone like me can work with you to help you answer all these questions.


So, there are just a few of the reasons why you should consider working with a nutritionist such as myself. We are all different; sometimes a third party can look at what you are doing and see a strategy or solution that you haven’t identified yet. I work with you and your family and your coaching team to ensure you at the right food, at the right time to perform better. Just because sporting fixtures are disrupted or not happening in the same way they normally do now; doesn’t mean you can afford to neglect your diet or your training.


Get in touch I you want more information. Head to the Contact page to sign up for the monthly newsletter or get to ask how I can help you.

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