Protein provides the building blocks of muscle and is essential for those needing to create and maintain muscle mass. Top rugby players will know exactly how much they need to consume daily, depending upon their weight, usually between 2.5 and 3g per kilogram.
While protein is important, players must take care not to turn to high sugar foods which will lead to fat gain. Protein pancakes, made with bananas, blueberries, eggs and protein powder are a great choice.
Keeping energy levels up before and during training can be achieved by choosing healthy snacks. Sliced apple spread with some peanut butter is a popular option as it contains good fats and fuel which is slow burning.
Rugby players need a very high level of muscle mass to play effectively. Packing on the muscle requires players to eat four, not three meals per day. They need to consume large amounts of the right food, to build this muscle mass and then to preserve it.
Rather than eating anything and everything however, players will stick to whole, unprocessed foods. Daily meals might include poached eggs and porridge for breakfast, salmon fillets, vegetables and potato mid-morning, coconut rice with root vegetables and steak skewers post training, and for dinner, a chicken and prawn stir fry.
Although many people consider carbs the enemy, they are in fact essential for the body, especially active athletes. Not adding fat alongside the muscle depends upon eating the right amount and at the right time.
The right breakfast
Each day, breakfast will be tailored towards what is due to take place. For a high-intensity training day players will need a mix of carbs and protein, so fish, eggs or steak for protein and porridge, sweet potato or fruit for the carbs. Lower intensity days will require a more protein rich breakfast, with the addition of healthy fats, like avocado and omelette.
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In the 24 hour before a match, players will need to fuel up for the coming performance. At this point they will consume high carb, slower digesting foods, like sweet potatoes, rice and oats. On the day itself, simple, easy to digest meals, such as sweet potato and chicken are the best option.