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Nutritional knowledge and practice of elite rugby players in Kenya

PW Kamande
P Bukhala
SO Konyole


Rugby is a sport that has great physical and physiological demands that come with heavy requirements on the body’s nutrient stores. Nutrition plays a key role when it comes to good performance in rugby and in turn, aspects of nutrition specifically relevant to rugby are used to improve on how an athlete performs throughout the year: pre-season, competition season and off season. Despite the tremendous growth of rugby within the global and Kenyan scene, there are few studies that have been done on the nutrition knowledge and practices of elite rugby union players. The general objective of this study was to investigate the nutritional knowledge and practices of elite rugby players in Kenya. This study adopted the descriptive cross-sectional design. The research was carried out in Nairobi and Kakamega counties in Kenya. Purposive sampling was used to select elite rugby players called up to the national team and the sample size for this study was sixty-seven (67). The data was analysed using SPSS version 25. The study’s results showed that 46% of the respondents were found to be in the age bracket of 25-30 years, with 52% of the respondents having attained tertiary education. Sixty percent (60%) of the respondents played the back position. A large proportion (75%) of the respondents correctly responded that carbohydrates were the main source of energy for the body, whereas only 23% correctly responded that sports drinks are the best to replace fluids on the field of play. The average daily kilocalorie intake of the respondents was low at 2097kcal against a recommended 2165kcal. Milk and milk products were the most consumed sources of protein at 37% (5-6 times a week). Cereals were the most common sources of energy at 30% (daily). There was no significant relationship between nutrition practice and nutrition knowledge amongst elite rugby players in Kenya (r (67) = -0.106, p = .400.). In conclusion, good nutrition knowledge did not necessarily translate to better nutrition practices. There is need for increased nutrition education amongst elite rugby players to ensure dietary intake is per set recommendations.