A pound more body fat can mean the difference between a save tackle or a lost attempt. Excess fat slows everyone down.
I monitor the body composition of professional rugby players when I work with them. When measuring players, we focus on their body fat percentage and lean muscles mass.
Professional players must ensure that their body fat percentage is within acceptable limits. There are clearly visible differences between positions. The front row forwards can have an additional pound or three.
Although it might seem easy for professional players to stay in shape, it is not. It takes constant vigilance, and the formation good habits. It is even more difficult because we are constantly surrounded with delicious foods that can actually hinder our performance. Everybody has a weak spot, whether it’s sweets, pastries, chocolates or cakes.
Extra food that isn’t burned off through exercise will be converted to fat. Professional rugby players must monitor their diet and adjust it to the training program.
There are two things you would notice if you followed a player for a day:
“Do they ever stop eating?” Professional rugby players eat 6-8 meals a day. They’ll eat something before, after and during training sessions. Smaller meals are spread throughout the day. Everyone should eat 4-5 meals a day.
It’s easy to see how obesity is rising in western countries if you take a look at the way that most people eat. We skip breakfast, or eat a light breakfast. A bowl of cereal, or jam and toast. Lunchtime is a time when we are hungry and often end up eating a lot of sandwiches or even a piece of cake.
There will be a gap between the dinner meal and dessert, which can often be filled with a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar.
We are becoming hungry as the evening draws near. Once our fat-storing hormones turn on, we can then enjoy a large evening meal. Overeating can lead to excess energy being converted into fat.
You can eat the same amount of food, but space it out across the day into four or five smaller meals. This will allow you to replenish your energy stores throughout the day and not overload them with too much and have the extra energy converted to fat.
I’ve explained this concept among others in a document you can access for free at www.FourWeekFatLoss.com. The diet of professional rugby players is another thing you’ll notice.
What is the reason they eat so much protein? A professional rugby player can consume up to 300g of protein per day. That’s equivalent to about 10 tins worth of tuna, 8 chicken breasts and 50 eggs. There are many reasons why they eat so much, and there are some lessons that can be learned for the average person.
Exercises that cause muscle damage, such as weight training or scrum practice, are more difficult and more damaging. If you want to repair the damage and increase the size of your muscles, the body needs protein.
Another reason protein is important, and this has consequences for everyone, is that protein takes more energy to digest than carbohydrate and energy dense fats. Although it’s not as if celery requires more energy to chew and digest than it actually contains, protein is moving in this direction.
To help anyone manage their weight better, my recommendations are:
- To eat at least 4-5 small meals throughout the day.
- Protein should be included in every meal
Next time, I will share some additional tips with you.