A Rugby Players Diet

There are few sports as physical as rugby. It’s therefore not surprising that a rugby players diet must enable him to withstand the vigorous training and equip him to reach peak performance.

Recently, a friend of mine who plays rugby, asked me about suitable foods for his training, and specifically about protein intake for muscle building.

So, for the benefit of others also interested in this subject, here are a few pointers.

If you play a sport that’s similar, something like a rugby players diet may form a good basis. I leave that for you to decide.

A healthy diet for regular activity should consist of:

  • At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily.
  • Plenty of starchy carbohydrate foods, particularly high fibre varieties.
  • Small amounts of protein.
  • Small amounts of low fat dairy products.
  • A reduction in the amount of fat, fatty foods, and sugary foods eaten.
  • Plenty of fluids throughout the day.
This is sufficient for most of use. However, if you’re spending your time sprinting, tackling, and driving scrums, you’re going to need something more substantial. Thus, a rugby players diet is slightly different.
Rugby players diet

flickr: pallotron

A rugby players diet

According to Sports Dietitians of Australia the training diet of a rugby player should:

  • Be high in energy to help with muscle gain – eat three meals and regular snacks everyday.
  • Be high in carbohydrate rich foods – breakfast cereal, bread, muffins, crackers and crisp breads, muesli bars, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit, smoothies. These should form the basis for most meals and snacks. This will help with exercise performance, recovery from training, and muscle gain.
  • Be moderate in protein rich foods – meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, beans, peas, lentils, unsalted nuts. There is no need to eat masses of extra protein to “bulk up.” Remember protein rich foods are not the main source of energy for exercise. In most cases the amount of protein required can be achieved simply by following a balanced healthy diet, which contains sufficient carbohydrate. If you’re interested in finding out your individual protein requirements, check out DISEN.
  • Make sure meals are low in fat – try to avoid too much margarine, fatty meats, high fat takeaway and snacks, fried food and creamy sauces.
  • Include at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day – necessary for preventing illness, building muscles and repairing injury.
  • Be low in alcohol as it leads to poor recovery, slow repair of injury, and contribute to excess weight. If you drink alcohol do so in moderation.
Click to discover what to eat before and after a game…
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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren February 23, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Hey Mel, nice post. I find that after games or trainings if I don’t get some form of protein or carbs in within at least two hours I am pretty low on energy the next day. I really notice the difference when I miss a recovery meal.



Ready Maid February 25, 2008 at 2:33 am

OOoo. Not sure I could successfully manage the high carb, although I am enjoying moderate amounts of high-fibrer carbs in my BestLife plan. Good post for athletes, though.

Love your blog design.


Melanie February 26, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for your feedback. Yeah, it’s so important to eat well when you’re training. Do you have particular foods, or snacks which you prefer for recovery?

Ready Maid,

Thanks for your comments, and glad you like my new design!

I wouldn’t recommend a very high carb diet unless you were training particularly hard, but moderate amounts are an excellent choice.


chirssy March 11, 2008 at 6:18 am

thnks bro you guys really help when it comes 2 dietry suppliment i hav 2 do a report on it


Chris April 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Thanks mel, you seem to have really done your homework on this. I’ll be trying this out now! Its making me hungry at the thought of some it, although you haven’t mentioned chocolate fudge puddings and custard, im assuming they are ideal for this type of diet!!]
Many thanks again mel, your a legend!


Melanie April 4, 2008 at 10:31 am

Hi Chris,

No I didn’t mention the chocolate fudge pudding and custard :-) I couldn’t incriminate myself like that!!! Anyway, you’re most welcome!


* H0LLiE * July 31, 2008 at 9:18 am

thank-you so much you have helped me in my health class i’m studing for my big HPE test hope i get a good mark

thankx agian HOLLiE


connor February 11, 2009 at 4:01 am

hey mel is it??

thanks for the advice im only 13 but play rugby at least twice a week. im also diabetic so this information can also promote healthy blood suga levels for me.

thanks again i think this can realy help my game and trainning input and performance.


Melanie February 11, 2009 at 9:10 am

Hey Connor,
I’m glad the info was useful to you! Being active will be really beneficial for your diabetes too, so keep up the good work :-)


tom March 30, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Thanks for the help!


Melanie March 31, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Hey Tom,
Glad it was useful! :-)


Al April 5, 2009 at 5:16 am

do you know of a diet plan for a 15 yr old boy who plays rugby league,his energy level are low


Melanie April 7, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Hey Al,
I cannot give out a diet plan without actually having a consultation with someone. But, I’ve just written a post on increasing energy levels, which may be helpful.


corey April 25, 2009 at 6:10 am

ive just become pro but my coach said my diet is wrong and my muscle is soft what can i do plz help


Melanie April 25, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Hi Corey,
What kind of diet do you follow at present? Is it something similar to what I’ve detailed in the above post?


corey April 28, 2009 at 6:46 am

ive just become a player so i dont have a diet plan yet so i was just wondering if u could give me advise thank you


Melanie April 28, 2009 at 7:03 am

Hi Corey,
Unfortunately I cannot give you a diet plan without actually having a consultation with you first. You would really need a plan tailored to your individual needs.

If you follow the advice in the article it will certainly be helpful though.

Perhaps you could visit a sports dietitian in your local area?


Bernard August 2, 2009 at 9:16 pm

hey i am strugling to gane weight for rugby! and energy if try’d everything and nothing works.any help?


Tony Wilson September 10, 2009 at 10:59 am

could you add the daily amount of Nutrients’ for


bob December 16, 2009 at 10:22 am

Hi i need some advise i have been playing for about 15 years now and and passing the age what do you suggest


Melanie December 17, 2009 at 11:16 am

Hi bob,
What advice are you after specifically?


Moe September 24, 2010 at 12:20 am

I am planning on joining a rugby league near my community, and i was wondering if i followed the diet you’ve posted will that help a person gain weight?


Melanie September 25, 2010 at 9:02 am

Hi Moe,
This diet is a “healthy” diet for athletes, not necessarily a bulking diet. You should contact a registered sports dietitian for more advice that is specific to your needs. Take care.


Lee March 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Hi I’m 14 and I play rugby and I was just wondering would eggs be good for a rugby diet


Melanie March 26, 2011 at 9:48 am

Yes, they are perfect.


Aaron Scott May 18, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Hi, I’m currently playing rugby at a high level and I’m in an academy team. I have been told I’m too small to progress any further.

I’m looking for someone to tell me exactly what to eat and what time I should be eating it.

ie. 7am cereal, 9am banana sandwch with nuts, 10am milk with dried milk, 12pm chicken and pasta + sauce, 2pm protien shake, 4pm tin of tuna, 5pm small pasta (for gym energy), 7/8pm protien shake, 9pm beef with green veg.

I’m looking to get something like this for the period of 14days, then I can mix and match there after.

if you cant help could you please point me in the right direction to someone who might be able to help me?

Thanks, Aaron


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