Ok, so you’re a professional rugby player (or just a guy who wants to maximise their strength, power, speed and endurance), what supplements do you take?

Here’s the shortlist:

1. Protein - if your diet is really good and you get 5 good meals or snacks with a good portion of high-quality protein a day, then this might not be in your top 3 but for most people, it’s convenient and more effective to have a few protein shakes per day. Let’s face it, muscle is made of protein and when you’re breaking your muscle tissue down in the gym and on the pitch and trying to recover properly between sessions, you need about 2 grams of protein per kilo of your body weight. You get bigger, stronger and faster during recovery and if recovery is incomplete, you won’t see the benefits of your hard work!

2. Creatine - Even though it’s been around for 20 years, no single supplement ingredient has since been shown to be better for power sports that require several short bursts of maximal activity than creatine. It is a total ‘no brainer’ - with a perfect safety record and no negative side effects (despite all the fraudulent and misinformed rumours to the contrary) besides muscle growth and increased power performance - if you’re not taking it, you’re leaving performance on the table.

3. Beta Alanine - This rarer form of the amino acid alanine increases levels of carnosine in the muscles and this has the effect of delaying that painful burn you feel when you’ve been working a particular muscle for a prolonged time, thus allowing muscle function to continue for a longer time during intense activity. 

4. An “NO” Booster - this could be beetroot, a form of arginine or citrulline. All of these can increase nitric oxide (NO) and are found in many pre-workout supplements. NO helps the blood vessels dilate and this allows more fuel to be delivered to muscles and more of the waste products of exercise to be removed. It also has effects on most of the important hormones involved in growth, repair and fat burning in the body.

5. A multi-vitamin and/or a ZMA product - As with protein, unless your diet is very good (and even if it is quite good), there’s a good chance you aren’t consuming optimum levels of vitamins and minerals. A lack of one or more of these essential nutrients could mean you don’t perform as well, don’t recover as well or don’t produce energy as effectively, all of which means you don’t achieve your best potential performance.

-Mark Gilbert BSc (Nutrition), CISSN

Six Nations Rugby