Whether you’re in the gym or out on the turf, consistently hitting top performance doesn’t happen by accident.
The raw physicality and explosive impact involved with rugby places huge demands on the body, more than most sports. Preparation is key to recover quickly, repair tissue and minimise the chance of injury. That means setting a solid nutritional plan around training and matches, and sticking to it!
Eating the right foods at the right time isn’t rocket science; it’s just that the routine takes discipline to enforce. For most of us, a big part of the challenge is finding the time to prepare healthy meals all week long. Work and family commitments tend to come first of course, but that doesn’t make keeping a tight rein on your diet any less important – or possible.
So, what exactly should rugby players be eating between matches to keep themselves in prime physical and mental condition? We sat down with nutritional experts Will and Matt from Fit Chef to underline three must-have foods for any active rugby player.
A hard-fought match leaves our glycogen levels heavily depleted. These levels must be replenished before we’re able to train or play at the same intensity again, especially if that’s within a few days.
Post-match carbs are essential for this – the sooner the better. But remember not all carbohydrates are created equal. Unrefined carbs like potatoes, whole grain pasta and brown rice are your best bet here, coupled with lean meat or fish. At the very least, try to avoid pizza and the temptation of a few post-game pints every week.
Fit Chef recommends… Penne ragu with Sicilian-style sausage
Trout, salmon and mackerel are incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, well-known for supporting cardiovascular health and long-term brain function.
But that’s not all. Oily fish also plays a key part in reducing inflammation, protein synthesis and reducing the risk of arthritis. If you want to start reaping these benefits then two to four servings of oily fish per week should do the trick.
Fit Chef recommends… Roast salmon with garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, burnt broccoli and almonds
Bananas and berries
Different fruits are loaded with different antioxidants and vitamins, and a varied mixture is definitely best for your day-to-day diet.
That said, mixed berries (particularly cherries) are proven to aid recovery time following exercise and can help protect against muscle damage. Of course, bananas are a staple of many athletes because of their high carb, potassium and glucose content. Keeping a couple handy in your workout bag for a quick post-exercise boost is always a good shout.
Fit Chef recommends… Strong banana smoothie
Not enough time on your hands?
Whipping up a nutritious meal with all the trimmings is last thing most of us want to do after getting home from the match on a Sunday. Unfortunately, that means a greasy post-match takeaway is seen as the easiest option – but not for much longer
As the founders of Fit Chef, Will and Matt have spent years developing their idea of a healthy delivery service. If you’re looking to pin down your own diet plan around training but don’t have the time for continual food prep, their subscription packages might be the way to go. Head to the Fit Chef website for more information!