As science continues to evolve, we are constantly discovering more about the human body, and the complex ways nutrition contributes to our overall health. Following a hamstring injury, former Munster rugby player Jonny Holland went on to study Applied Sports & Exercise Nutrition and now uses that knowledge to coach sportspeople, offering invaluable nutritional advice and running wellness workshops.
Though partaking in sport can range from a couple of gym visits a week, a fun game of tag rugby or five-aside to a more dedicated amateur or professional team commitment, Jonny says the body’s core needs are the same. “You need carbs for high-intensity activity,” he begins. “You might not think your activity’s intense, but if you’re going to a spin class and your heart is going above a certain rate, you need carbs to perform.”
According to Jonny, there is still plenty of misconceptions out there when it comes to both carbohydrates and fat. “A lot of amateur sportspeople think that to get in shape they have to cut their carbs, but I’d be careful doing that,” he says. “Professionals talk about the timing of food, but that might be irrelevant to your goal if you do not control the total calories going in. Training for performance, like professional team sports or a marathon, you’d probably lean on carbs a bit more.” Think wholegrain bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice. “Otherwise,” he continues, “you can split it whatever way you like – some people like more fatty foods. And when I say fatty, I mean the healthier types; cheese, avocado, or things like that.” Timing of food can be tricky, especially for the likes of GAA players, who are often balancing the sport with a full-time job. “Playing at senior level is tough,” Jonny adds.