University researchers team up with Ross County reserves

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Active Health

The University of the Highlands and Islands is working with one of the north’s largest sporting teams to share healthy eating advice. Researchers from the university’s active health group organised a nutrition education session for players from Ross County Football Club’s reserve team.

The event, which took place at the Highland Football Academy in Dingwall on Tuesday 13 November, included a cookery session with Dornoch Castle Hotel’s award-winning head chef, Grant MacNicol, and a presentation by the university’s registered dietitian Kirsty Hickson. Players also had their body composition analysed with specialised equipment from the university’s active health exercise lab.

Dr Daniel Crabtree, a research fellow in physical activity, worked with Gregor Campbell, Ross County’s reserve team sport scientist, to organise the event. Dr Crabtree said: “Following a healthy diet can be challenging for young athletes, especially for those living away from home. They may be unsure about what foods are good for them and how to prepare a healthy meal. The aim of this event was to support Ross County by educating their young players about why maintaining a healthy diet is not only important for their athletic development, but also for their wellbeing. In addition, the players have learnt some key food preparation skills from Grant, which will help them to create healthy, home cooked meals.”

Mr Campbell added: “The University of the Highlands and Islands offers a high level of expertise that I was keen to tap into. As nutrition plays a pivotal role in how the players perform and recover on a daily basis, it made sense to utilise the great knowledge we have locally. With a mixture of practical and theoretical education, this event allows us to get into the finer details of how food impacts performance and this perfectly coincides with our long term athlete development plan in which the players are learning to ‘eat to win’. We also want to help educate the players to ensure they carry these skills into all aspects of life. We very much see our role here at the club to not only develop footballers but to also develop people who can go on and have positive healthy lifestyles.”

Ben Johnstone (17) from Inverness is one of the players who attended the event. He said: “The session was very helpful. We can use what we learned today when we are at home making food for ourselves. It also let us know what we should eat before games, information about different food groups and how important hydration is.”

The University of the Highlands and Islands’ active health group was set up in 2017. Based at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness, the team has a dedicated lab with a range of state of the art equipment used to assess exercise capacity and health status. Members of the team are conducting research into topics including physical activity, diet and disease management.

To find out more about the University of the Highlands and Islands School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences, visit www.uhi.ac.uk/en/research-enterprise. You can contact the active health group at active.health@uhi.ac.uk