My fitness, training with the team and going to the gym are all vital for my success as a rugby player but there is also another important factor. Nutrition. In this blog I talk about what I eat and how it helps meet the demands of super rugby.
My average day consists of three main meals with some snacks (nuts, fruit, biltong or tuna) in between. For breakfast I have fruit, muesli and yoghurt while lunch and dinner I have red or white meat with salad or vegetables.
The aim of my day-to-day diet is to get the right balance of the major food groups with enough variety to keep it interesting. As a hooker muscle mass is critical to my performance so I tend to eat more protein than most people by eating meat twice a day along with protein shakes before and after weights training.
I am pretty strict on my diet so I don’t often vary from my menu plan, however, on game day the nerves can kick in and I might eat less but I always stick to healthy foods eaten at certain times.
As a rule I avoid high fat or high starch foods like white bread, white rice and potatoes but occasionally I break out and have a cheat day. It usually starts as soon as I finished playing when I get down to my closest Hungry Jacks and have a Double Whooper with either a chicken wrap or chicken nuggets and a large chocolate thick shake (did I mention I love chocolate?). The next day I fit nachos in somewhere but then I am back to my regular diet.
When I was a kid my diet was very different and I struggled to maintain my weight so my parents took me to see a doctor who specialised in nutrition and Cystic Fibrosis (CF). His advice was pretty cool to me as a kid – eat Maccas fries to gain weight and the high salt will help with the salt deficiency that comes along with having CF. I didn’t complain much about having to go to Maccas and soon I was at my ideal weight. Fast-forward today and I instead maintain a balanced diet to stay in peak physical condition.
Being with the Western Force I have access to some leading nutritionists so I’m lucky they can help me work out meal plans to ensure I am getting the right mix of foods and nutrients. I recommend if you’re thinking of adjusting your diet, particularly if you have CF, you speak to an expert who can help you create a customised meal plan based on your requirements.
To end this blog I thought I would share with you one of my favourite recipes – it’s a lamb roast and I often cook this on the weekend when mates come over.
I start by preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and then I get a leg of lamb that I cut three slits into and stuff with finely chopped fresh garlic and rosemary. Once I’ve done that I smear the meat in a mixture of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper and put it on an oven tray covering it with aluminium foil before putting it into the oven for around 90 minutes (60 minutes per kilogram so its nice and pink in the middle). After 30 minutes cooking time I take the aluminium foil off and chuck in some roughly chopped vegetables like onion, sweet potato and pumpkin.
When it’s done I carve and serve up with the baked vegetables and a Greek salad or some steamed greens.
Feel free to share your favourite recipe by commenting below.