With Rugby proving a hot topic of conversation over the last month, we were lucky enough to be joined by Former Captain of the England 7s, Rob Vickerman for a live Facebook Q&A session where we took the opportunity to pick his brains about fitness, nutrition and his experience with food intolerance testing.
What are the best carbohydrates to consume before hit training and how long before the training session should they be eaten?
This is a tough one to answer as it is so dependent on your personal preferences and metabolism. I know people that have to eat at least 3 hours before any rigorous exercise, and some that can have a meal 30 minutes before.
The main point of type of food (for me!) would be to keep it simple. I have had banana with peanut butter on before big High Intensity Training (HIT) sessions, giving me good energy without a heavy feeling during activity. Take time to assess how you feel over time, and make sure it’s right for you.
Do you include ‘good’ fats in your diet through supplements or do you prefer to put them into your diet from your food?
I try to make sure the majority of my food is from whole foods, not supplements – especially something like fats. I am a huge fan of avocado, fish and nut butters, and often cook with coconut oil (and even have that in my coffee!) which means I have a good selection and amount of EFA’s (essential fatty acids).
What made you decided to take a food intolerance test?
I was suffering with headaches for a long time and ended up with more of a migraine from them. It really started affecting my performance – if I had one, I wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed, let alone train. So it was always recommended to me that I had to be really careful about my diet and watch what I ate because there could be a trigger food that started the migraines.
For me, to be able to canvas a whole range of foods – rather than having an exclusion diet was an absolute no brainer.
It was really practical in the application and has been fantastic since.
How did your trigger foods affect your performance?
This was quite varied. Apart from the fact that I would get migraines which was a massive part that I never, for one minute, assumed it could be down to what I was eating. Other situations involved feeling really bloated.
What replacements do you use in your diet?
Discovering soy milk was revolutionary for replacing cow’s milk and I would have soda bread for my pre-match meals. Cow’s milk is difficult to avoid but carefully reading labels really helps.
Do you think it’s better to do small bits of high intensity exercise or something longer like long distance running?
Good question, and this depends if you are training for an endurance event or not.
I am a huge advocate of HIT. The mental and health benefits of pushing yourself to the upper limits for 6-10 seconds with significant recovery (for multiple sets) outweighs the nature of slower, less intense activity. Life isn’t a treadmill, and the ability to deal with the intensity of short sharp blasts will have benefits in all areas of life. It will take less time and continue to burn calories long after your activity has finished, too.