Rugby League players are now every bit as professional as any other elite level athlete, with everything from training routines to rehydration tracked and monitored to the nth degree.
Fuelling a squad of hungry players is a full-time job, with many clubs employing nutritionists and dieticians to ensure every player has a diet that is especially tailored for them.
Here we take a look at the super foods and drinks which clubs from the Super League and NRL are supplying for their teams, so they can reach their full potential out on the field of play.
League players are always on the lookout for foods that can provide them with all the nutrients and protein they need in order to recover between training sessions and matches
Breakfast Kickstarts a Day of Heavy Hits
It is often said that the most important meal of the day is breakfast and for a hungry rugby pro that certainly rings true with no one wanting to head to training or a big game on a grumbling and empty stomach. To prevent this from happening, NRL players typically tuck into a filling yet lean breakfast that may consist of something along the lines of eggs and avocado on toast. Coffee is also something on the menu as it has been proven in some studies to be as effective as pre-workout formulas.
Food Just as Much about the Brain as the Body
When most people think about nutrition, they tend to believe that it only pertains to physical benefits and drawbacks. However, this could not be further from the truth because a good diet, and the super foods it consists of, can help with everything from developing higher levels of concentration all the way through to improving reaction times and decision making. Some of the food stuffs that excel in this regard include green leafy vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli, because they are full of useful vitamins like vitamin K, beta carotene, and lutein, as well as vitamin E. Fish is also one of the best brain foods, as it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids that keep the old brain cogs turning, although it should be noted that smaller fish with less mercury are better options than larger fish like swordfish or tuna.
The hits and tackles come thick and fast in Rugby League so players’ bodies need to be fuelled correctly in order to withstand the impact
Snacks Actively Encouraged
Snacking is often discouraged by nutritionists, but that is usually for regular members of the public who are not training throughout the day. For pro league players, though, snacking is an important part of their diet, enabling them to keep their energy reserves replenished throughout the day. Of course, this does not give them the go-ahead to tuck into chocolate bars and packets of crisps with snacks being restricted to healthy energy boosting foods like nuts, yoghurt and even protein shakes.
Player Position Alters Diet
It would be wrong to think that all players across a squad eat exactly the same thing, because one player’s dietary requirements will vary greatly to another’s, especially if they play in completely different positions. This means that forwards will be more likely to consume calorie dense dishes and meals, whereas backs will maintain a leaner diet, so they remain nimble and do not pack on too much unnecessary weight. This means that backs will be seen tucking into lean white meats like chicken or turkey rather than forwards who may be more inclined to munch through a thick steak and load up on calorific foods like brown rice.
Foods that Are Rarely Touched by League Stars
Everything in moderation is an idiom that rings true in pro sport as much as it does among the general populous, but there are still some foods and drinks that are off limits. It goes without saying that alcohol is off the menu, as are fatty fried foods like fish and chips. That said, there are some foods that can surprise, like dark chocolate, which when consumed in moderation can provide valuable antioxidants that flush toxins from an athlete’s body.