Optimum nutrition is a vital component of the success of any rugby team, and as a personal trainer in London I’m interested to see what the players eat.
England Rugby Squad
Here’s a breakdown of the nutrition regime of the England squad:
Vegetables: spinach, green beans, carrots, avocados, beetroot juice
Carbohydrates: porridge, sweet potatoes, lentils, wholemeal pasta
Protein: chicken, smoked salmon, eggs, tuna, protein shakes
Dominant foods of other national Rugby squads
According to the Daily Mail:
Wales: bison sausages, lava bread fillet steak
Fiji: goat pies
Uruguay: red meat
Argentina: red meat and mashed potato
Carb loading is vital for adequate glycogen stores during a match. Carbs are the optimum energy source for a rugby match, so they often form around 60% of a rugby player’s total calorie intake.
A study by James Morehen (Sports Performance Nutritionist at the Widnes Vikings Rugby League Team) in collaboration with researchers at Liverpool John Moores University compared two diets the day before a rugby match. One included 3g carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight, the other was double that amount of carbs, at 6g per kg bodyweight.
The study found that the higher carb-intake group performed better, didn’t get fatigued before the end of the match, whereas the lower carb-intake group were running on empty towards the end of the match due to glycogen depletion.
Writing in Rugby World, James Morehen emphasized the importance of adequate protein intake, to achieve a “positive net balance between synthesis and degradation.”
He recommends 2g protein per kg of bodyweight per day. So an 85kg scrum-half should consume around 170g protein per day, and the bigger players would need more. Four meals of protein (and carbs) rich food, plus two protein shakes a day, would achieve the optimum of 6 protein feeds per day.
For vegetarian rugby players, quinoa is one of the best sources of complete protein.
London based Personal trainer Dominic Londesborough is the author of the Fitness4London blog, and a nutrition coach.