NUTRITION ON A BUDGET
Rugby professionals have access to a whole team of backroom staff, with little expense spared, but how can you live healthily if you are on a budget? It’s easily done if you plan and follow a structure.
Muscling in at the market
It’s not just at the all-you-can-eat buffet that can refuel you without breaking the bank – the farmer’s market is a great source of sustainable sustenance, so don’t veg out – wake up early and stock up on fruit, veg and meat. Have a look online to see where your next one will take place.
Stock up and store
It’s best to buy in bulk whenever there is a sale of non-perishable items such as tinned food and frozen food and veg, even if you share the cost with friends or teammates. Tinned tomatoes and tinned tuna are staple that should be in your cupboard.
Bulking up your meals
You can add oatmeal or beans to pack your dishes with positive proteins – you can fill out burgers so they are of bigger portions, while using the same amount of meat. This will look after your waistline, as well as your wallet. Just adding a side salad or some steamed vegetables to your meals also helps – you’ll feel fuller and get more nutrients for muscle repair. Broccoli and Sweet Potato are always winners on the side.
Say no to carb loading and yes to water
Having a huge amount of carbohydrates the night before a game is actually a cause of lethargy; some athletes swear by pasta feasts and the like, but your rugby diet plan should avoid them. Stick to low GI carbs so muscle glycogen is filled. It is a good idea to drink three to four litres of water the day before to stay hydrated before you play or train – and of course, it’s free nutrition. Have another pint of water on game day to ward off dehydration.
Don’t binge-eat at breakfast
Continue with the low GI carbs, so pick a modest amount of oats, wholemeal foods and rice, which don’t tend to break the bank. You don’t want to be carrying too much in your stomach, but you should also have protein in your breakfast groceries – eggs are a good source, with steak as a treat, and this should break down in the usual 5-6 hours before a game.
Small and simple
Your lunchtime meal should be light – try some grilled chicken with vegetables and wholemeal rice – try to prepare frozen greens yourself to spare the cost as you really shouldn’t be paying someone else to chop and wash them!
Always on the ball
The key to your athlete meal plan is to maintain it throughout the week. Always keep yourself hydrated after a training session, and make sure you have the right carbs and proteins. You’ll recover much better and more quickly if you make these food items the first things on your grocery list – and it need not cost you an arm and a leg, both of which you’ll need on game day. Think cannily and buy canned – and frozen fruit and veg is no less nutritious than expensive fresh produce that only keeps for a few days!