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Nutrition: How to get your proteins

One of the most common mistakes pro rugby players make, according to rugby nutritionist James Morehen, is missing out on protein at breakfast time


Ideally, players should consume 2g of protein per kilo of body weight when trying to bulk up – so if you weigh 100kg you need 200g of protein a day – but that doesn’t mean devouring a few huge steaks in one go. No, it has to be spread throughout the day.

And after you’ve spent eight hours ‘fasting’ as you sleep, you need to replenish your stores first thing. Players can be guilty of a few sins – for example, Morehen believes oranges have gone out of fashion, but in the winter, when colds are common, you need Vitamin C – and skipping protein is one of the biggies.

Halftime: Jonny Wilkinson & Felipe Contepomi prepare oranges Rugby World
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And after you’ve spent eight hours ‘fasting’ as you sleep, you need to replenish your stores first thing. Players can be guilty of a few sins – for example, Morehen believes oranges have gone out of fashion, but in the winter, when colds are common, you need Vitamin C – and skipping protein is one of the biggies.

When you have a morning gym session and so are contracting your muscles, it’s essential to consume protein beforehand to aid muscle protein synthesis and minimise degradation. We already know eggs are great, and below we give you a great frittata recipe for a hot morning meal. And if you need 20g every few hours, you can have a few of those eggs boiled, or low-fat Greek yogurt plus almonds.

Of course, it’s not all about protein. Strategically planned carbs and fats provide energy sources. Morehen, from Liverpool John Moores University, wants you to “eat a rainbow a day”. ‘Greens’, like asparagus, promote gut health while ‘Reds’, like watermelon, have energy-boosting lycopene.

Eggs are high in protein, but asparagus provides energy sources Rugby World

Asparagus & Bacon Frittata (serves two)

You’ll need:

5 medium eggs, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 30ml of skimmed milk, ¼ teaspoon lemon zest, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 4 slices of chopped bacon, 8 medium asparagus stalks trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces.

Baby asparagus and bacon frittata Rugby World

Step-by-step

  1. Whisk the eggs, two tablespoons of the Parmesan, milk, lemon zest and salt and pepper together.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the bacon and asparagus, then cook for about four minutes or until the asparagus is tender.
  3. Reduce the heat and pour in the egg mixture, stirring gently to spread evenly. Cover the pan and cook until the bottom sets – cooking for about nine minutes.
  4. Scatter the remaining cheese on top and place under a grill until browned.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Remember

DO

Plan ahead. For example, if you’re making some fajitas the night before, double the amount you make and you have an easy meal the next day

DON’T

Rely on shakes and bars to make up your early protein deficit.

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