One in three Irish adults is classed as overweight according to Daniel Davey Performance Nutritionist with Leinster Rugby and Dubin GAA as he addressed a large audience at Meath Local Sports Partnerships recent Sports Nutrition workshop.
Sports coaches, players, athletes and those with a general interest in sport and physical activity attended this workshop to get practical information on nutrition from both a health and sports performance point of view.
“We should all, regardless of our ability eat the same and eat consistently” was the message. “The only difference with players or athletes such as Leinster rugby and Dublin footballers is the volume of food as their game or training intensities are likely to be much higher” Daniel explained that it’s about calorie management – getting the balance right between the amount taken in and the amount expended “weight loss is calorie deficit and weight gain could equate to a calorie surplus”
Within the sporting context according to Daniel the modern GAA player is covering greater distances- up to 10k per game and the intensity level is higher; with 1000-2000 calories expended per game. Put simply “if you are not eating correctly you will struggle to cover these distances and sustain the intensity required”.
He added that eating does not have to be expensive; all meals can be supplemented with fresh produce using eggs, vegetables and fruit. Having said that, he maintains “if you are not willing to cook then it is very difficult to consistently eat well, you have to take responsibility for what goes into your mouth”.
“If you do not plan you eating habits around training or games then no matter how well you eat on the day of the event, it simply will not be as effective”. The same applies for sleeping and drinking water. Athletes are best advised to eat the foods they are familiar with and eat well 24 hours to 36 hours before a game or big performance. Foods such as porridge, fruit and vegetables are usually a good source of storing slow burning carbohydrates.
“Our bodies are designed to burn fat” if we digest high carbohydrate foods such as bread, cereals, or foods with high sugar content before sport, then the body is burning these carbs first and this can lead to early fatigue, and hunger pangs within 60-90 minutes leaving us wanting to eat more. Daniel advised that food with a long shelf life is not as nutritious as fresh food
When asked his opinion on an alcohol ban for players Daniel believes moderation is key. “You have to have a positive attitude towards food and alcohol. An outright ban or negativity towards a player having a drink or glass of wine can be counter –productive” He has never enforced such a ban with any of the teams he has worked with.
Another question from the floor was around the intake of fluids, Daniel states that there is no substitute for water. The daily recommended intake of water is between 2.5 and 3 litres. On coffee “If you don’t drink coffee then taking it before a game can lead to dehydration depending on the intensity and duration” but if you are a habitual coffee drinker then you are less prone to dehydration.
Sports journalist with the Irish Independent and local resident to Simonstown, Colm Keys was the MC on the night. ‘Having a guest with the extensive profile of Daniel Davey, involved with two of the best teams in the modern era of Irish sport, made this a compelling and insightful presentation on nutrition that served to benefit, not just those involved in sport and with teams, but anyone with a passing interest or concern about what they consume. The audience participation was exceptional.’
To view this workshops key points please click HERE