Lion food: what Warren Gatland’s team eat

great post on nutrution for rugyLion food: what Warren Gatland’s team eat

Matchday menu. Click through the slides to see more pictures

Given the size of professional rugby players these days it will come as little surprise that on average they eat twice as much as the rest of us on a daily basis.

While most people stick to three meals a day with the odd biscuit for a snack, the British and Irish Lions tuck into breakfast, lunch and dinner, with ‘snacks’ of spaghetti bolognese between their meals

Lions Sports Scientist Dr Brian Cunniffe said: “We do not look at nutrition in isolation but rather from a holistic sports science approach that links strength and conditioning, game demands, time of season and competition structure.”

The Lions will have stayed in 12 different hotels during this tour so well in advance of their arrival a meal plan is drawn up by John Williams, a consultant nutritionist with the Welsh Rugby Union, and the strength and conditioning team which is then agreed with the hotel.  The Lions have not taken their own chef on the 2013 tour, as they have done in the past, so more so than ever accurate planning is paramount.

“The biggest challenges are making sure there is variety in food choices since over an-eight-week period food can become a bit of a refuge in such a mentally and physically challenging environment,” continued Cunniffe.

Products of the regime: Tom Croft and Dan Cole

Products of the regime: Tom Croft and Dan Cole

Forwards v Backs

Nowadays it is hard to tell the difference in some of the forwards and the backs in terms of their height and size.  Traditionally backs were on average up to 20kgs lighter than the forwards but all that has changed in the last decade.  This means that the backs are now eating nearly as much as the forwards with the difference coming in the foods they consume.

“Irrespective of total calorie intake, backs inevitably cover greater distances than forwards and at a higher intensity during training and games,” explains Cunniffe.  “Therefore backs consume slightly more carbohydrates than forwards since carbs are the main source of energy provision in high intensity rugby union.”

Keeping an eye on things

Lions nutrition profile

Every morning the players go through checks with the medical team.  Using their Windows surface, they click on their profile and pin point any area of their body where they are feeling pain.  They can grade that from 1-5 in terms of how much it hurts.  Depending on what readings come back a text alert will be sent through to the medical and sports science teams so they know instantly that a player needs to be examined.

Time for treats

According to Cunniffe the players are all so competitive in the current Lions squad that little to no regulation is needed of their eating and conditioning.  In fact, throughout the interview the sports scientist had players approaching him to ask for checks such as their body fat count.

Pizza and chicken wings are the most popular fastfood requests but those are made in-house with natural wholesome foods, including organic and locally sourced options.

Lions nutritional factfile

“For the State of Origin match on Wednesday we got in treats for the squad such as chicken kebabs and pop corn.  Everything we give them is oven cooked.  Nothing is fried, not even when it comes to treats.”

The players will only have dessert about once a week and even then the cheesecake is made from low fat ingredients.

“Chocolate has not even been mentioned by the players.  It’s one of those vices they know they can go without.”

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