Leading rugby nutritionist on the essential muscle-building foods you need
"It's a healthy way to eat, but a delicious way too."
As the nutritionist behind England's 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph, Matt Lovell knows the importance of ditching a dodgy diet if you're looking to realise your goals
With over 20 years experience, Lovell now works at the elite level of a number of sports, and on an individual basis with stars such as Jonny Wilkinson and James Haskell.
SportsJOE caught up with Lovell to discuss all things nutrition. He outlined the essentials of a rugby player's diet and provided a muscle-building meal plan.
What would a Guinness Six Nations game day diet look like?
"These guys eat a lot! Muesli or porridge, berries, honey – then some eggs, maybe an omelette, some spinach or broccoli – maybe a slice or a chicken breast or two.
"There's heap of veggies at breakfast, sounds weird but you need veggies for health and performance so getting them in at breakfast makes sense. One extra opportunity."
Which foods are absolute essentials for a rugby player's diet plan?
"Rugby players do well on anti-inflammatory foods such as oily fish, berries, vegetables and lots of spices, herbs, garlics and so on.
"It's a healthy way to eat, but a delicious way too so it keeps them on track and stops them eating things they shouldn't."
What ratio of protein, carbs and fat would you look for?
"It depends a lot on the player. They all need carbs – anyone that says a low carb diet for a rugby player is the way forward hasn't looked at the nature of the game.
"However, the protein requirement is moderately high and you need veggies to balance this for a healthy body. Also, vegetables contain plenty of carbs so there won't be mountains of pasta and rice as you'd see in a runner or cyclist's diet.
"The emphasis shifts towards more carb dense foods towards matches. About 25% of a plate might have protein, 50% veggies and 25% starchy carbs such as sweet potato. Then they’ll have some salad on the side and maybe some berries and yoghurt for pudding."
What are some of the main diet mistakes people make?
"Interesting question. One area would be choosing a protein shake over a proper meal. Shakes are good but only if there's no time or good choices. However, supplements are there to provide either what food can't or to provide a 'fast food' healthy alternative."
Matt has shared some of the essential muscle-building meals typically found in a pre-match diet plan:
- Poached eggs on toast
- Chicken and penne pasta bake in a light tomato and herb sauce
- Choice of: spaghetti bolognese, beef lasagne with steamed peas and carrots or chicken curry with steamed fragrant rice
- Baked jacket potatoes with cottage cheese and smoked salmon
- Whey protein shakes to be taken in between training sessions, games or long periods without food
Matt Lovell's Aminoman brand has been perfectly formulated with nutrients for everyday athletes to excel in their training.