All anyone seems to care about when it comes to nutrition are supplements. The question I keep getting asked the most is what supplements I am using!
It's frustrating to say the least. It appears most young players, as well as many adults including other trainers, have things completely arse over elbow.
Supplements are not the cornerstone of anything. Never will be and certainly should never ever be considered as such. They play a part, but it's as a finishing touch. As a boost or to deal with a deficiency.
I answer all the questions we get tweeted across all our @JameshaskellHF social media channels personally. Not a week goes by when I don't get asked what supplements I take.
Nobody tweets asking about what amounts of food I eat? Or what changes they should make to their diet to get the results they want? Instead it's always "I want to get bigger, so what protein shake should I take?"
The reason I feel confident to speak freely about this is that I have been there and made this self same mistake.
I wanted short-term gain, but had no knowledge of nutrition. So I decided to look at taking protein shakes and creatine instead of focusing on my diet. I started training when I was 15, as a result of missing-out, literally at the very last hurdle in getting into the England u16 Rugby Union side.
I was lifting three times a week, doing speed and fitness work as well. I would eat the regular three school meals a day plus my trainer would bring me a couple of Tesco's Chickens to eat after training. I did try and eat more at meal times, but the "helpful" kitchen staff would only give me what everyone else had. I knew I had to eat more, but had no idea of what and how much. So I turned to using simple protein shakes and then later I added creatine.
Let's immediately address some of the underlying concerns and myths which exist about creatine for all the young school boys out there and their parents. Creatine is not a steroid. It won't make you massive; it probably won't put any size on you really. Finally, your internal organs will not melt, as was suggested to me when I was at school.
It's been so demonized, it's a joke. It DOES NOT build muscle. What it does is provide your muscles with the capacity to derive more energy in short bursts. This will allow you to work out at a higher intensity for longer, giving you the potential to stimulate more protein synthesis.
Because I took the wrong path with the emphasis on supplements NOT diet, I didn't for a long time get the results I wanted. This from what I now read is the same frustration which a considerable body of people out there appears to share.
Diet and whole food is what will make the difference. You need to train and you need to train hard. However, you need to get your diet right as well. Then over time you will definitely get the results you want. If you don't focus on diet you will just meet frustration and disappointment!
As a consequence of working with so many amazing nutritionists over the last few years, I have completely changed my outlook on supplements and diet. Of course I still use supplements now. Indeed I have developed my own product range, as I couldn't find what I wanted in the market and needed to be certain what I took was only the best formulation. I needed the products to be completely natural with no harmful additives; the ingredients only being of the highest quality, with the end product fully Informed Sport tested and guaranteed safe for all to take as a result of rigorous and stringent batch testing. If you want to find out more, please check out www.jameshaskell.com.
This article is not about my diet, as I have already covered off aspects of this in other blogs although it is a subject which I plan to return too shortly.
No, this blog is about the question of supplements. Following all the questions I keep getting posed, I decided I needed to publically answer the individual supplement questions I am asked once and for all, in order to be able to give all my followers the answers they so clearly want.
However there is only so much one can say in a blog. So if you want to know more on this subject then I go into a considerably more detail, in my new "Introduction to Rugby Fitness" guide which is launching very soon.
Follow our social media channels to find out more to ensure you are amongst the first to take a step in the right direction, by downloading and reading it.
The idea of this blog is to highlight the importance of diet as well as setting the context and balance between diet and the use of strategic supplements, in addition to providing you with a quick over-view of some of the supplements I actually do use.
My nutrition team at the moment is made up of Glenn Matten and Aiden Goggins, two leading experts in their field. (If you want to find out more about them, visit either www.glenmatten.com or www.aidangoggins.com). Both of them are at the very highest level in their chosen field, with a huge wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience.
These guys completely over-hauled and dissected what I did from a nutrition point of view. Based on a battery of blood and various other tests, they created for me the most bespoke and detailed nutrition programme possible.
It is big year of rugby after all, with that small matter of a World Cup in our own back yard. So I didn't want to leave any stone unturned in my dogged pursuit of becoming a better and more dynamic player.
As Sir Dave Brailsford, the ex Performance Director of British elite cycling said, it's all about a series of small marginal gains across a wide number of areas, which when all added together equate to one big gain, which delivers success
As part of the package created for me by Aidan and Glen there are four supplements I use every day. I have set out the products, the reason why I take them, as well as the source I recommend you get them through. Although they will be available from different sources. However please make sure you carefully check out the ingredients to ensure you are buying like-for-like.
All the supplements I suggest are from reputable companies and critically are all fully Informed Sport tested and certified.
Fish oils - Healthspan Elite -www.healthspan.co.uk/elite
One area that a lot of people, myself included, are found to be deficient in, once tested, are EPA. This is a key fatty acid that your body needs to help promote repair, recovery and health. Omega 3 supplements, i.e. fish oils have historically focused on providing a balanced level of these beneficial fatty acids, but increasingly experts in sports nutrition are suggesting that obtaining higher levels of EPA could be of greater importance. This is particularly true for high performance sports professionals and active individuals who are looking to aid recovery after intense periods of activity.
Probiotics - Healthspan Elite -www.healthspan.co.uk/elite
An area that is always neglected when looking at nutritional gains is the health of your gut. If you don't have a healthy digestive system this can affect your immune system, performance and how you absorb nutrients from food. Young players this wont be such an issue, but those older players who haven't eaten well or have put there body under stress could look at trying a high end probiotic to help fix and repair your gut. This is also the case for those who are looking to loose weight, and are perhaps new to training. Years of abusing your body in one shape or another can leave your digestive health, in pretty shoddy order. Probiotics will help get your gut back on track, and hopefully get things working, as they should.
Carnitne - Etixx -www.etixxsports.com/en/products/carnitine-1000
Carnitine has a key role in the nutritional health of the energy powerhouses of our cells, called the mitochondria. It facilitates the transfer of fats to the mitochondria to be used as fuel and thus works as a fat burning agent while increasing our energy levels. It also has brain-boosting effects, which increase alertness.
However Carnitine only works in physiological doses, there is only benefit from supplementation if you have low starting levels. Animal products like meat, dairy etc. are good sources. So high protein eaters generally have no need to supplement. However, there are always exceptions and higher demands, such as in your case, where blood tests showed you had low levels.
Hades - James Haskell Health & Fitness -www.jhbodyfire.com/products.html
I wanted to find a pre trainer which didn't make you feel like your head was going to explode, or would cause any damage to your body. You will have read about people in the news taking dodgy, pre trainer/fat burners which have caused some terrible effects. I looked round the market but couldn't find what I was looking for or indeed felt I could absolutely trust. So I created my own product, with the help of some top nutritionists.
You can safely take Hades (male) and Hella (female) as a pre-trainer before working out or how I use it more often than not, before I play a game. You get a controlled burst of energy and focus, so you can work harder for longer.
You don't get any of the usual side effects associated with these products. Plus because its Informed Sport batch tested, you know exactly what you are getting.
I hope this brief insight has been of interest and help in flagging-up the critical importance of establishing and maintaining the right diet.
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We do this delivering professional fitness and nutrition advice in a simple, clear and easy to understand format. In conjunction with the development of our own range of clean and certified sports supplements, this allows the individual to achieve the lifestyle balance, which is right for them.