What to eat before rugby training?

It’s Tuesday. You are still tired from the weekend. You’ve had a long day at work and now you have rugby training.

How the heck do you gain the energy to please your coach who took you off at half time at the weekend?

This article will give you evidence based nutrition strategies that you can use before training to help you blitz through your tiredness and get you selected again on Saturday.

In the physiological demand of a rugby player article I highlighted that rugby is mainly a cardiovascular based activity but with intermittent periods of anaerobic activity, i.e. rucks, tackles, carries etc.,

Therefore, it’s recommened that your diet be carbohydrate dominant to fuel your rugby training performance. However, there is on caveat to that statement.

Your carbohydrate demands should be dictated by the quantity and intensity of your training as well as your general activity levels throughout the day.

For example, if you are an office worker and a weekend warrior your energy demands will be alot less than a road worker and a rugby player.

Equally, it’s impotant to know what the structure of your rugby training sessions look like. You may need to harass your coach for the details of your sessions.

If you are due for a heavier, more intense session, consume more carbohydrates during your pre match meal and even more breakfast. More lighter training days, like team runs, consume slight less.

A general rule of thumb is:

light rugby training days- <3g/kg/bodyweight of LGI carbs in your pre training meal.

Heavier rugby training days 3-5g/kg/bodyweight of LGI carbs in your pre training meal

Pre Training Meal

Your pre training meal, approx 3 hours before training should contain around 3-5g/kg of low glycemix index carbohydrates, proteins and veg, always veggies.

How would this look in practice?

Wholemeal spaghetti, turket or low fat beef mince bolognese and a side salad.

So the wholemeal spaghetti is a low GI food which is your fuel for your performance. The mince is your protein source. This needs to kept low fat, is high fat is harder to process and can hinder performance on training days and the salad/or veg obviously provides some dietary fibre and vitamins to your diet.

During Training

During rugby training is where we switch up our carbohydrate sources to a glycemic index sources. Why is this?

The aim of the lower glycemix index foods that you have ate througout the day is to provide slower release energy that keeps you fuller for longer and dont’ spike your insulin too high. The higher glycemic index items on the other hands are fast acting and are there to provide almost instant energy and helps to bridge the gap between your body accessing the carb storage in your muscles with their more immediate energy demands.

These sources should primarily come in the form of energt drinks or gels.

Sources of high glycemic carbohydrates for rugby training include.

Lucozade sport.

energy gels.


And that’s what you should include in your pre rugby training diet plan. If you have any questions, let me know.