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12th Feb 2019

The rugby diet: everything an elite-level player eats in a day

Eat like an elite player with this daily rugby diet, courtesy of England international James Haskell. It fuels your performance in the gym and on the pitch

Alex Roberts

rugby diet

A rugby player’s diet is absolutely crucial in fuelling performance in the gym and on the pitch

Your body is very similar to a car in that it cannot run without the right fuel. Poor nutrition equals poor performance. An elite rugby diet demands that you consume the correct quantities of protein, carbs and fat at the right time.

England and Northampton Saints player James Haskell has recently published Cooking for Fitness, written alongside chef Omar Meziane.

In it, Haskell outlines what to eat and when for a variety of goals including sports performance, muscle gain and fat loss.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Haskell says: “I am constantly thinking about two things: fuelling my training so I perform well, and recovering from my training so I continue to perform well.”

This is what he eats on a typical training day:


  • Eggs
  • Chicken sausage
  • Toast
  • Probiotic drink
  • Protein porridge
  • 2L water
  • Coffee with whole milk


  • Protein shake with carbs and a greens drink

Post-training [first session]

  • Chicken breast or fish
  • Brown rice or potato
  • Broccoli
  • 1L water

Post-training [second session]

  • Sea bass
  • Olives
  • Sun-dried tomato rice
  • 1L water


  • Banana and almond seed bar


  • Courgette beef lasagne
  • 1L water

You’ll notice the high volume of carbs. Despite what you may have heard many reality TV stars spout, there is no reason to unnecessarily cut carbs from your diet.

For sports performance or a more effective workout, carbs are crucial. They provide fuel for your body in the form of muscle glycogen, and also for brain as glucose.

Haskell also recommends monitoring your diet and adjusting as your body responds.

“When you’re eating for performance, there is a balance between fuelling training and trying to stay as lean and healthy as possible.

“Tracking your food is essential and then you can tweak things after assessing how you feel.”