Staying on top: Upping your protein intake during winter is essential

DURING THE colder winter months it can feel like a struggle to train, but following a strict yet fulfilling training and diet regime can help you to retain your form, as well as increasing your overall fitness and abilities.

Naturally, human beings are geared towards sunshine and warm weather; running around in the freezing cold is the antithesis of what our bodies want to instinctively do during poor weather and wintry conditions. We’re more likely to store fat in winter as a protection against the cold, as well as our body clocks being altered through darker mornings and evenings. All in all, winter can seem like a terrible time for the human body – but with a series of useful exercises and simple dietary changes, keeping your body fit and healthy for the rugby season is possible.

During colder weather it’s even more important to get your muscles suitably prepared before a match or full training session, so ensure that you do plenty of prep exercises as well as a warm-down afterwards in order to help your body recover.

Alongside a range of exercises to help your body train effectively through the colder winter months, having the right sort of diet is essential. While our bodies might be crying out for plenty of carbs and winter stews, one of the most essential components for a training diet is protein, which helps muscles recover quickly after exercise, and builds up muscle mass. One of the simplest ways to up your protein intake during winter is to use powdered forms of protein, such as whey protein, immediately after a training session.

Easier than eating a whole meal, and convenient for carrying to training, whey protein in powder form has significant benefits to a training diet. Protein is the essential building block of muscles, and when you’re training hard, your muscles are the components of your body doing the most work. Eating protein-rich foods or drinking a protein shake in the ‘golden hour’ after exercise helps replenish the body with essential protein used during exercise, therefore combating fatigue, muscle soreness, and improving the quality of your muscle.

We’ve found that taking in whey protein through powder or shake form is one of the most effective for training purposes, and can be a lot more economical that purchasing other forms of low-fat protein (like organic chicken).  Buying in bulk, just like with most purchases, is useful too, and can be a lot easier on your wallet. If you’re just starting a regular, intense training regime, then buying whey protein in bulk will ensure that you’re fully equipped for the rugby season and won’t be missing out on vital training and recovery time.

During winter, make sure you are keeping to your training regime and ensuring your body has the right nutrients by eating a balanced diet; as we’ve mentioned, plenty of protein is essential for muscle recovery, but don’t skimp on vitamin-packed superfood fruit and veg like dark greens and berries, as well as snacks like almonds and brazil nuts for natural energy. Other key winter ingredients are legumes and pulses (like kidney beans) for extra protein and fibre, and invigorating herbs and spices such as ginger and cayenne pepper.