Jonny May, England Rugby International December 06, 2016

New Healthspan Elite Ambassador, Jonny May, gives us an exclusive look into his favourite foods and the demands of a rugby player's diet.

Typical daily food intake

Breakfast: Poached eggs x 2, whole meal toast, spinach, avocado and smoked salmon (a good balance of protein, carbs and fats to set me up for a full day's training. It gives me energy and the healthy fats from the avocado keep me fuller for longer).

Post-training: Protein shake and banana (helps to repair and build muscle, plus a banana for fast releasing energy ready for the next session).

Lunch: Chicken salad with quinoa (protein and carbs are great fuel and healthy).

Afternoon snack: Nuts, usually a handful of almonds (a source of healthy fats and helps nutrient absorption, plus they're quick and easy when I get home and in need of a quick snack).

Dinner: A choice of turkey chilli with broccoli and rice (turkey is a lean meat and great protein source), chicken wrapped in Parma ham with asparagus and sweet potato wedges, steak and roasted veg (after a long day of training I need to carb up for the next day).

Pre-bedtime: Casein shake (I'm pretty lean so high protein intake is key for me to maintain and build muscle. Casein is a slow release protein meaning it works throughout the night to repair my muscles).

Daily supplement intake

  • Collagen - it helps repair tissue and good for joint and bone strength, I would have it daily during the first 2 months post-surgery.
  • MultiVitamins - to make sure my body gets all the nutrients it needs, I take one every day.
  • Performance Greens - a quick shake if I don't feel I've had enough veg.
  • Omega 3 - anti-inflammatory, I always take 3 per day.
  • Glucosamine & Chondroitin - to help recovery from injury.
  • Whey Protein - quick protein hit straight after training.
  • Casein Protein - slow release protein through the night after a hard days training.

Did you adapt your diet throughout the period you were injured?

I didn’t make any drastic changes - I guess I had a few more treats in the early stages just as a pick me up as I was quite low. I'm pretty lucky because my body fat doesn't really change even if I'm not being super strict. I started taking multivitamins, omega 3, and glucosamine and chondroitin as these play a key role in joint recovery. Also for the first couple of months post-surgery I took a course of collagen. I'd also try to eat foods that were anti-inflammatory. For example, I'd add turmeric to foods as it's an anti-inflammatory, it's great on sweet potato wedges.

Do you change your diet on match day?

I'll always have a big portion of lasagna the night before a game - the carbs are crucial before bed. I'll reheat the left overs and have this about 3-4 hours before KO on game day, this will be a small portion because I don't want to feel full. Breakfast on game day is pretty light, porridge is my go-to!

What’s your favourite ‘cheat meal’?

It's got to be a pizza after a game on a Saturday night.

What’s your biggest food weakness?

Pickled Onion Monster munch and a Wispa Gold - I'll sometimes cave and have this after a double day of training if I'm knackered. Also, when we go to the cinema I can't resist a bag of popcorn! I found out the salt popcorn has the most amount of protein and is the healthiest option of all the snacks available by some way, so that makes me feel a little bit better about it.

How does your food intake differ to the forwards?

Forwards are typically guys who struggle with high body fat will and have to be a lot stricter in terms of their food intake and tend to have fewer carbs / sugars. They need to be careful about gaining body fat whereas I need to be careful about losing muscle mass! This is just a generalization though - some forwards struggle to keep up their weight and maintain muscle mass, just like some back have to focus on keeping body fat low!

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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