Rugby star reveals startling weight loss after he retired from the game 5 years ago

Rugby star reveals startling weight loss after he retired from the game

"I was eating every day as a job but after I retired I was forgetting about nutrition. I was so busy so I was skipping meals."

Darragh Fanning gave up the rugby business, in March 2016, to get involved in the food business.


Having scored seven times in 34 appearances, over three seasons, for Leinster, the Dubliner stepped away from tackle shields and set-plays to throw his energies behind opening a franchise of the Zambrero restaurant chain.

He tells us he has fully embraced the new direction in his life but admits there was a full-on "bodyshock" soon after he hung up his rugby boots. He says:

"I always saw myself as a player that tried to put in the most work. I never took anything for granted. I was all about those one per-centers and any of the extras that would help my game. A good diet was one of those one per-centers and I got a lot of help and advise there from Dan Davey, the Leinster nutritionist.

"When I finished up, I launched straight into getting the new restaurant set up. I was working long hours and skipping meals.

"Some friends and family commented, at the time, that I was looking a bit drawn and even paler than normal. It wasn't until I weighed myself a the gym, five weeks after retiring, that I found I had lost 10 kilos [22lbs]. I was absolutely shocked."

Fanning got his act together and straightened out his diet.


Ahead of the opening of the new Zambrero launch in Cork, Fanning compared his new, daily diet to what he would have consumed on an average day as a rugby player.


Breakfast: 4-egg omlette with salmon and spinach [tomatoes and peppers optional]

Mid-morning snack: Porridge with almond milk and protein mixed in [seeds, berries and honey optional]

Lunch: Meat [fish, chicken or roast beef] and vegetables. Fresh fruit or salad. "I never took on a lot of complex carbohydrates from rice, pasta or potatoes. I would usually take them on through root vegetables - parsnips, carrots, sweet potato."

Post-training snack: Recovery shake [non-lactose]

Snack: Coffee with teammates and a super-food salad.

Dinner: Roast chicken or roast beef with green vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli [home-cooked usually]

Snack: Protein pancakes - banana, eggs, oats and protein mixed in.

Fanning says he was, and still is, a firm believer of the 90/10 rule. "As long as you are eating 90% of the right stuff, you should allow yourself that 10% for a treat. My post-match treat often used to be a take-away like fish and chips."



Fanning is currently operating on a diet where he eats all of his meals between 10:30am and 6:30pm, allowing his body the rest of the time to fast and process the consumed calories.

Breakfast: Protein and oats at 10:30am [after earlier gym session]

Lunch: Cooked eggs with meat and vegetables.

Snack: Burrito with black rice, vegetables and rice [often taken at work - Zambrero]

Dinner: Meat [roast chicken or turkey, or fish] and green vegetables.

Having retired at 105 kilos and dropped to 94kg, Fanning is now back up to the 100kg mark and, he insists, full of energy. With a second franchise opening in Cork on February 22 and another planned for later this year, he will certainly need it.