Breakfast has never been so contentious. It used to be thought of as the most important meal of the day.
Now though, public opinion has slightly changed. Evidence suggests that breakfast is important, but it’s equally important to the other meals that you consume in the day.
However, evidence has also suggested that skipping breakfast and eating some junk for your first meal is a sure-fire way to eat junk for the rest of the day.
This is why intermittent fasting, particularly the 16:8 diet has become so popular. It’s seen a controlled way of skipping breakfast without the negative consequences.
To be honest, it’s a really efficient strategy if you are looking to shed some weight without being too controlled with your diet.
But rugby players want to perform better in training and in games. So the question is what should rugby players eat breakfast and should you eat breakfast at all?
Should Rugby Players Eat Breakfast?
The answer is, it depends (but you probably should eat breakfast).
Why does it depend?
Well firstly, it all depends on your training regimen. Do you lift weights or run in the morning? Are you training late at night? If you are, then I would highly recommend that you eat a good breakfast to aid in your training performance and recovery.
That is not to say that you cannot train fasted. No, you are perfectly able to train fasted as long as you are consuming a good breakfast containing carbohydrates within an hour afterwards.
Similarly, if you are finishing training at 8 in the evening, then on the 16-8 diet that would mean that you don’t eat until 12pm the next day. This is not optimal for recovery.
What if I’m Training in the Afternoon Only?
Well, this is up to you.
If you feel like you can skip breakfast/fast and get enough calories and protein in to aid recovery and perform well then be my guest.
However, I do not think it’s optimal. Why? Because, most of you will be consuming over 3000 calories a day, and would probably require at least 180g of protein a day this is really difficult to achieve when only eating in an 8-hour window, which would possibly be 2-3 meals over that period.
And if you are under-eating, or not eating enough protein. Guess what? Your recovery and performance will deteriorate.
The only time I would possible advise this approach for a rugby player is if you are injured, not exercising much, in the offseason to help prevent weight gain or if you desperately need to lose a few kg’s and are not too concerned about losing weight.
Now we have established those facts let’s get into what you should eat for breakfast.
What Should a Rugby Player Eat for Breakfast
Let’s remember this should all depend on your training regimen and your macronutrient breakdown but the below will be a good catch-all for most readers.
Good old fashioned oats. Not the ready brek crap you get from Greggs which is laden with sugar. No, the steel-cut jumbo oats which are low in sugar, high in fibre which release carbs slowly into your system and sustains your energy throughout the morning. They are good for general health too.
The way I like to cook mine are as follows;
1 Scoop protein powder
150g greek yoghurt
Some water to help mix it in (approx 80g)
1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
Mix the oats, protein, greek yoghurt and water together and add the cinnamon.
Nuke in the microwave for 90 seconds, stir and cook for another 30 seconds.
Once out add blueberries and devour.
You can also do an overnight oats version where you mix it all the night before. The ingredients will mix overnight.
You can either eat cold or warm in the microwave. Great if you are rushing in the morning.
Eggs, eggs marvellous eggs. Eggs are the most biologically available sources of protein there are. With over 6g of protein in one small egg, they are a great breakfast food with one caveat…
They are laden with fat, some of it good which contain a variety of fat soluble vitamins high in calories nonetheless.
Research says that you should only eat 3 eggs per day to avoid potential cholesterol problems. However, nobody has ever said anything about eggs whites!
How to Eat Your Eggs
You can make a scrambled egg or omelette with some veggies
Or make some pre-made omelette muffins that some food bloggers make.
To make the meal more substantial serve with wholemeal toast, maybe some oats as a side, or even some baked beans or chicken sausages.
Chicken or Turkey Sausages
Now if you are like me then I love a good old fashioned pork sausage but they tend to be double the amount calories and less protein than chicken or turkey sausages.
Therefore so I try to stick with chicken or turkey sausages for the most part and eat the pork ones only on special occasions.
I tend to cook mine in a large batch and warm up 3 or 4 at a time when needed.
You could eat these in a sandwich or with your eggs.
Steak (why not?)
Let’s go paleo bro.
Really, is there not a bad time to eat steak?
If you have the time and your budget allows, have some steak, eggs and some fruit or veggies.
A great source of protein and healthy fats, you could eat with eggs, some veggies or even with some toast and fruit as a side.
I know people are fussy about having vegetables in the morning which is why breakfast is an ideal time to get some fruit in.
Before you go ahead and make any of these, may I just say that these aren’t the American pancakes you really want to eat. They tend to be a bit dry and not as tasty as the normal versions.
However, if you serve with some greek yoghurt and berries or some sugar-free maple syrup then they aren’t all that bad and do fill you up for the morning
Us the oats recipe above and blitz it all up into a smoothie. You may want to add more water though.
I find this is an ideal time to get some greens vegetables in the form of frozen spinach. The frozen ones are ideal for this and you can’t even taste them.
Smoothies are great for those in a rush in the morning, they only take a few mins to make or can be premade and they especially good for those that simply do not like to eat in the morning.
What you shouldn’t eat for breakfast?
So now we know what we should eat. Let’s see what we shouldn’t eat.
To be honest, everything is ok within reason. For example, breakfast cereals are typically a big no no health reasons as they are highly processed, full of sugar and with not very many naturally occurring vitamins in them. However with that said, after a particularly heavy session, you’ll need some high GI foods to help replenish your energy stores.
However, with that said, I would not advise this day to day. Maybe on the odd occasion, or in pinch.
I’d avoid stodgy foods like Greggs breakfast rolls, full english breakfasts, McDonald’s breakfasts etc.,
In conclusion, what a rugby player should eat for breakfast is really no different from that of the general population.
However, with one caveat you should be mindful of your training and energy needs when choosing the foods you eat.
What do you think? Is there anything that I can add to the list? Leave a comment below and let me know…