An Intro into Rugby Nutrition

Rugby Nutrition
Kent offers a guide on Rugby Nutrition

What is rugby nutrition?

Rugby nutrition is providing the body with fuel. The body needs fuel to be able to perform efficiently on the field. However, providing the right type of fuel is important. There’s no point driving a Ferrari if you are going to put second rate gas in it. Same applies to your body, there’s no point training hard and then providing your body with inadequate food.

3 of the main nutrients (fuels) for rugby players are:

Carbohydrate is the main fuel for rugby players. Carbohydrate is the ‘petrol in the car’. It gets stored in your muscles as glycogen and when you start exercising it gets broken down to glucose which provides the muscles with energy.

Protein is of primary importance to the growth and development of your body. Protein provides the structural basis of muscle tissues.

It is recommended that fat in your diet should be minimal. By eating too much fatty food your body you will end up carrying to much useless weight and you will become an inefficient player. Your body doesn’t need to carry more weight than it has to! A player should gain weight through muscle mass not fat. Muscle is functional but fat is not functional at all.

How much of each nutrient should we eat per day?

Carbohydrate = 6-9 x 1 kg/body weight per day

Weight of player

Grams of Carbohydrate
75kg 450g – 675g
80kg 480g – 720g
85kg 510g – 765g
90kg 540g -810g
95kg 570g – 855g
100kg 600g – 900g


Weight of player

Grams of Protein
75kg 112.5g – 127.5g
80kg 120g – 136g
85kg 127.5g – 144.5g
90kg 135g – 323g
95kg 142.5g – 161.5g
100kg 150g – 170g

Pre Game and Recovery Nutrition

Pre-event Nutrition

The purpose of the pre-game meal is to maximize glycogen stores, especially in the skeletal muscles, and to provide adequate hydration, while minimizing gastric distress, hunger and digestion during competition.

The four important pre-game factors are:

1. Timing
2. Amount
3. Components of the meal
4. Fluids


There is limited ability of the muscle to generate glycogen stores when a low fat/high carbohydrate meal is eaten within six hours of competition. The majority of digestion is completed within 4-6 hours and allows for the stomach to be relatively empty. Blood that was needed for digestion is now diverted to the muscles for exercise.


Too small a meal can leave the athlete with low blood glucose levels during prolonged competition, too large a meal can leave a person feeling lethargic. Larger meals take longer to digest.

Components of the meal

Carbohydrate should be the main component of a meal before games. Carbohydrate is the main source of energy and can be digested quicker than other fuel sources. Protein reduces the risk of hunger. Fats prolong digestion and delay gastric emptying so, should be kept low.


Athletes should consume enough fluids to start the competition in a state of hydration. Fluid consumption should be increased in the 24 hours prior to the competition and then up to 500ml should be consumed 15 minutes before start.


Eating immediately post-exercise will speed up refueling. The athlete should consume 1g of carbohydrate/kg body weight within 30 minutes of the completion of the exercise. It is often unappealing to eat a meal after exercise. Most athletes prefer to have a post-exercise snack and then have a meal a few hours later.

Some examples of snacks after rugby are:

  • Sandwiches
  • Pita pockets
  • Sports drinks
  • Sports bars
  • Bananas

Examples of Protein Food

  • Diary products
  • White meat
  • Red meat
  • Eggs

Examples of Carbohydrate food

  • Breads
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Potatoes
  • Fresh and dried fruit

Example of fatty food that should be avoided

  • Fries
  • Takeaway food
  • Soft Drinks
  • High fat ice cream
  • Lollies
  • Skin on chicken

Examples of high carbohydrate low-fat meals



Skimmed milkBananaFresh juiceBread/toastLow fat spreadJam, honey, marmalade or marmite

Weet-bixMuesliSkimmed milkBananaFruit juice2 tea cakesLow fat spreadJam, honey, marmalade or marmite BranflakesRaisinsSkimmed milkBananaSugarFruit juice2 tea cakesLow fat spreadJam, honey and marmalade



Low fat spread1 eggLean hamSalad (tomato, lettuce, cucumber, celery, watercress)Doughnut Banana

crumpetsLow-fat spreadLow-fat cheeseMarmite2 fruit sconesJam, honey, marmaladePear 2 large pita breadsTuna in brineSaladSalad cream/ dressing DoughnutLow-fat yoghurt



Low-fat spreadLean gammon steaksTinned pineapplePeasRice pudding

Spaghetti BologneseMixed vegesFruit SaladLow-fat yoghurt PotatoesChicken pieceBaked BroccoliBaked BeansFruit pie Macaroni cheeseTuna in brine
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