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Nutrition for Rugby Players: Example Meals and Protein Recipes

chicken - CopyAs I have said in my previous blogs, eating a well-balanced diet is important for everybody, especially athletes. To help you figure out what and how much you should be eating, I have decided to focus this blog on some meal examples, tips and delicious protein shake recipes! This way you have no excuses not to eat well.

Below please find sample nutritional meals for a normal day and a training/match day. I also provide some tasty protein shake recipes for immediately after exercise, before bed and recovery. Finally, I discuss the latest diet trend, the Paleo Diet.

Normal Day


• 1 large bowl of cereal, best types are porridge/muesli/shredded wheat/weetabix (Always check salt and sugar content).
• Half pint semi-skimmed milk.
• 1 glass of fruit juice (1 of your 5 a day).
• 500ml water.


• Moroccan style chicken* with wholemeal rice/cous cous
• Mixed side salad (eg. spinach, watercress, rocket, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, herbs, olive oil & a vinegar for flavour, eg. balsamic).
• Mixed fruit with low-fat yoghurt.

* Mixed beans, chopped tomatoes, sultanas, olive oil, salt and pepper, chicken stock, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon.


• Asian style grilled tuna steak (marinated in soy sauce/brown sugar/garlic and sesame oil and heat in a saucepan).
• 6 boiled new potatoes with a large portion of vegetables (broccoli, carrots and green beans).
• 1 low-fat yoghurt and 1 banana or other fruit
• 750ml water and squash


• Handful of mixed nuts
• 1 x banana
• 1 x protein shake
• 2 x oat cakes and peanut butter


drinking - Copy
We should all be drinking around 2 litres of water a day.

This can be included in cups of tea and coffee or your protein shakes, but it is best to be drinking plenty of plain, simple water.

Training/Match day


• Large bowl of porridge
• Half pint semi-skimmed milk with ½ banana
• 1 slice of wholemeal bread with healthy spread and tsp honey
• 1 x glass of pure orange juice
• 500ml-1 litre water

During training

• 1 litre of water with electrolyte mix

Post training

• Montmorency tart cherry protein shake (for recipe see end of blog post)
• Grilled chicken salad
• 2 slices of wholemeal bread bun or pita bread
• 1 litre water


• Wholemeal pasta with chilli or Bolognese
• Side salad
• Portion of fruit
• 500ml water


• Grilled salmon or lean red meat
• Wholemeal rice
• Large portion of vegetables
• 1 low fat yoghurt and a portion of fruit
• 500-750ml water


• Large bowl of low sugar/salt cereal with half pint semi-skimmed milk
• 2 slices wholemeal toast with jam
• Large glass of semi-skimmed milk
• Fruit
• Oatcakes with peanut/almond butter, cottage cheese
• Whey/casein protein shake

Protein Shake Recipes

Peanut Butter Party (Immediately after exercise)

1 tbsp peanut butter (natural)
1 scoop of whey protein powder
1 cup of skimmed milk
Pinch of salt

Chocolate Surprise (Before bed)

1 scoop of casein powder
1 cup of skimmed milk
1 tbsp of cocoa
0.5g of Tryptophan powder (optional)

Merry Tart Cherry (Recovery)

1 scoop whey protein powder
1 scoop Montmorency Tart Cherry Powder
Handful of fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, cherries)
1 tbsp of low fat natural yoghurt

Latest Diet Trend: Paleo Diet

paleo - Copy The Paleolithic diet, or also known as, the caveman diet, has had a lot of interest recently.

This ‘hunter gatherer’ diet consists of grass-fed, pasture raised meats (particularly organ meats such as liver and kidneys), fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes any grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

According to some, the flesh of meat should provide 65% or more of the calories in the Paleo diet! Fruit and veg should be around 35%, with eggs also playing a major role.

Many different versions of this diet have been documented but generally the idea is that a diet of our Paleolithic ancestors may be the ideal human diet. Over the years, our diets have dramatically changed. This has not necessarily been all negative,but we have acquired a lot more bad habits such as convenience foods and high fat snacks.

As with most diets, the Paleo diet has many supporters but also a lot of critics. Some believe it is a ‘fad diet’ and would be too hard to maintain in the modern-day world. Others believe that it is key to optimum health and well-being. What do you think? Let us know below.

About Alison

Alison Hedley is one of our nutrition bloggers also working as a Senior Development Technologist for the sports nutrition company Whilst completing her MSc in Sport & Exercise Nutrition she also worked at the Carnegie Centre for Sports Performance, advising athletes and sports teams on their diets. Alison is a very keen runner and enjoys reading and writing anything to do with sports nutrition. Please feel free to ask any questions or suggest future blog topics. View all posts by Alison

5 Comments to Nutrition for Rugby Players: Example Meals and Protein Recipes

  1. Hedge

    Hi Alison,

    Regarding Paleo, I’ve been eating that way for just over a year now and will continue to do so. The only difficulty was the first 6 weeks, where I had to mentally change my way of thinking from what I was used to about foods and fighting off the occasional sugar craving. However, after it becomes normal, life becomes so much easier, by having much more freedom around eating and not worrying so much about food. The first week was the worst as I had brain fog, felt dizzy and had massive sugar cravings. However, into the second week I started to notice the benefits, such as being able to go for more than 2 hours without getting hungry or sleepy. after 2 weeks I hadn’t thought once about pasta, rice, bread or flour for my meals which was surprising as I couldn’t imagine life without it seeing as that was the main component of my previous meals. 6 weeks later and there was no turning back. Energy levels had gone through the roof, I was sleeping better, had more control over my hunger and started noticing improvements in training.

    Fast forward a year and I have also moved on to experimenting with intermittent fasting. I started with the 16/8 where you eat within an 8 hour window, then dont eat for the next 16. E.g., have dinner at 21:00, dont eat again until 13:00 the next day, then between 13:00-21:00, eat as much as you need. To begin with, it took some adjusting, getting over the sensation of hunger in the morning as your body is used to eating at that time. However, now, it offers the option to not have breakfast or have it and it makes no difference. I have probably had breakfast 4 times in the last 4 months. What I have noticed is improved recovery after training (the theory is my body can spend more energy on healing than digesting food). I also noticed an increased mental focus as work. It has also removed a lot of stress around worrying about getting hungry because I rarely do now. I often train in a fasted state in the morning and the sessions are just as good as normal, fed sessions, sometimes better as i sometimes get more of an adrenaline rush.

    I could write loads on this but will just summarise how it has gone over the last year.


    – More sustained energy both mentally and physically. I can concentrate all day without getting sleepy like I used to. Doing athletics training (sprints and long jump), longer runs (2-6miles), gym training and rugby has all been better, hitting pbs in all.

    – Recovery after exercise has much improved, I rarely get doms now and feel fresh most days.

    – So much more control over hunger, I seem to be able to perform well in a fasted state or a fed state. I can also go for hours without eating without flaking or lacking concentration, which on busy days is brilliant. I regularly wake up, have water or a coffee, get working and before I know it, it’s 5pm.

    – A much improved stomach, I used to need the toilet regularly and was sensitive to a lot of foods (just assumed I was a windy human). This is a thing of the past and have a much more regular toilet situation.

    – Improved immune system, I have not had a single cold or sniffle since I started, nor have I suffered from hay-fever for first time in years. My asthma has also gone. When I cut out dairy and ate lots of anti-inflammatory foods, my asthma symptoms diminished quickly, along with the aches and various tendonitis.

    – Improved sensitivity to foods that disagree with me. It is nice being able to listen to my body more.

    -Shopping is easier as it is just vegetables, meat, fish and some fruit. Occasionally we have to top up on our herb and spices.

    -Meals are extremely tasty and easy.

    – Having loads of vegetables and healthy fast like coconut oil, avocado and lard from well sourced animals, plus bone broth just generally makes me feel well and also seems to have improved skin.


    – Initial transition – shifting your eating paradigm from conventional to unconventional.
    – Sometimes eating out, but that is mostly minor as most places do salads and some form of meat or fish.

    It may seem extreme to many people as it goes against what a lot of us were brought up being told. However, for me it was slightly easier to look at it differently as it made sense. My mum, who is Jamaican grew up eating like that and always tried to feed us like it. I believe many island folk eat similar. OK, occasionally they have rice and peas but the kidney beans are soaked for a minimum of 24 hours and it has been shown that out of all the grains, white rice is the least offensive on the gut. Funnily enough, I started to feel worse when I moved away to uni and started cooking for myself. She has always advocated eating fresh veg, fruit, good meat, fish and used loads of avocado, coconut products, bone broths (oxtail stew) and now at aged 64 has only been ill once which was pneumonia – she recovered in two weeks because her body responded so well to antibiotics since she has never taken any in her life.

    Rambled on a bit here but it has been a great experience both physically and mentally over the last year – I know it is not for everybody and some who try it don’t notice the benefits but if done correctly, it can have a massive improvement on quality of life!

  2. Mike

    Thanks Alison. One of my colleagues here was talking about a temporary fasting thing he was doing which was helping him lose a lot of weight. I think that he adhered to eating specific things (2 protiens, 1 carb, 1 fat etc) but he did all his eating in one 6 hour window, usually from 3pm til 9pm and says it really works well for him. Have you had any experience with it before and think its healthy?



    • Alison

      Hi Mike,

      Strangely I have been looking into this diet again recently as it seems to be quite popular among a lot of Bulk Powders customers. I have not tried this myself but read about several people who have and are seeing results.

      Intermittent Fasting/5:2 Diet or Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) is based on eating ‘normally’ for 5 days and fasting for 2, or similarly ADF is based on fasting every other day. From what I do know most, if not all of the studies documented are based on animals and not humans, so yes this diet could indeed give weight losses and health gains but realistically needs a lot more research before any definite human based conclusions can be made. As with the Paleo Diet, sustaining this type of regime for a long period of time would prove difficult and be a ‘quick fix’ rather than a lifestyle change. Personally I think a daily calorie reduction could give the same benefits, given this will take longer but should be easier to maintain over life.

      The NHS have wrote a useful article on Intermittent Fasting:



  3. Mike

    I think that the Paleo diet is very hard to do in real life – its alot more effort in preparing the foods beforehand – especially breakfast & its more work and time per meal as opposed to pre-packaged foods and things like ‘just add milk’ cereals.

    • Alison

      Thanks for the comment Mike. I agree, the diet would be tough to maintain in the 21st century with all the convenience foods available. However I do think that we can incorporate some of the caveman dietary habits into our modern day diet. For example, looking for cereals which are low in refines sugar and salt and cutting out any processed foods.

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