With the 2020 RBS Six Nations just around the corner, the eyes of the country are turning towards the boys of the Home Nations.
Everything they do is currently being scrutinised, from what they eat, how they train and even how much kip they get on a daily basis.
This has been the norm for as long as the Six Nations has been around, and one such former player is all too familiar with the pressure these eyes bring.
We’re talking about Ex-Wales and Lions captain, Sam Warburton.
Now a coach for the Welsh team, Sam made 34 appearances in eight tournaments between 2010 and 2017, and during that time he and his team lifted two titles and a Grand Slam.
It’s safe to say, then, he knows a thing or two about competition prep, and one key area he never scrimped on was nutrition.
“Pre-Season is a time to train hard, push the body and eat good nutritious foods,” he says.
‘For me I always aimed to gain 1-2kg lean muscle in pre-season as when the games start its harder to make the gains.
These days it’s even harder with the increased running demands expected of players and therefore you need to be on top of your nutrition to allow those gains to occur.”
So, just how does he hit his targets? Well, luckily, he gave Muscle Food his top 5 tips…
1. Don’t be afraid of supplements!
Sam relies on the top-notch supplements created by PAS Nutrition to fuel his workouts and help him reach his goals.
For instance, of the RGF-1 (AKA Recovery Growth Factor – 1) he says it is “a[n] all in one blend with 40g protein, 40g carbs and 5g creatine. I would always aim to have one of these drinks per day, whether it was after weights or a as mid-morning shake on rest days.”
But his most highly recommended supplement is PAS Nutrition’s AGF-1.
“AGF-1 is the secret to gaining muscle, trust me, it works, use in pre-season for 8 weeks and see the difference.
[it’s] designed to increase lean muscle and aid recovery by optimizing testosterone and cortisol levels.
For me this was a key product every pre-season when looking to add size and strength but also during international competition to hold muscle and aid recovery.
I know so many players who use this and it works like nothing else to boost testosterone."
2. Carb Load Up!
In his hey-day, Sam would often struggle to eat on game day because of nerves.
So, he would regularly try to get as many calories, carbs and protein into his system the day before, so he had as much fuel in the tank as possible.
3. Omelettes and Pancakes
Although in saying he didn’t eat much on game day, he still ate quite a bit for the average human!
For breakfast he’d probably have a three-egg omelette with bits of chicken and peppers, along with a bowl of porridge with fruit, a banana and some honey for some extra carbohydrates.
For lunch, he’d often tuck into sweet potato with chicken and veggies, as well as some rice pudding or protein pancakes with fruit as a pre-match snack.
And, if he was feeling a little peckish, a PAS Protein Bar helped quell any hunger pangs.
4. Don’t deny yourself
Sam freely admits one of his great pleasures is enjoying a little bit of chocolate, “I think I have actually got an addiction to chocolate; I genuinely do. It makes me happy when I eat it.”
So when it comes to training and eating like an athlete, he believes it’s important to have a nibble of your favourite “treat” once a week, whether that’s a curry with friends, a bar of chocolate post-match or tucking into a cheeseburger.
5. Red Meat is King!
Sam really enjoys his red meat and would often enjoy a chilli con carne or spaghetti Bolognese the night before a match.
And we think that’s pretty sound advice considering red meat is a fantastic source of body boosting iron.
Of course, endurance athletes may not be too keen considering it can be quite heavy on the body and digestive system.
Now that Sam is no longer playing, his diet is a little different, but he still enjoys working out, so we asked him to give us the lowdown on his current daily diet is different from his rugby playing days…
Sam’s Typical Day
3 whole egg omelette, diced chicken, tomato, spinach, cheese.
Porridge with skimmed milk.
4 x PAS AGF-1
2 x PAS Defence
Chicken and avocado in whole meal wrap.
Banana, mixed nuts.
Dinner: one of the below
Chilli con carne with Veggies (Broccoli, peas and carrots)
Low fat chicken curry with Veggies (Broccoli, peas and carrots)
Tuna pasta and sweet corn with Veggies (Broccoli, peas and carrots)
Spaghetti Bolognese with turkey mince with Veggies (Broccoli, peas and carrots)
4 x PAS AGF-1
PAS MGF-1 with unsweetened almond milk and 2 Pro Omega
Post workout – depending on when he trains during the day:
PAS RGF-1 (4 scoops) with water.
All in all, Sam eats in excess of 3500 calories per day with this meal plan!
Sam’s Rugby Days Nutrition
Porridge, Fruit, Nuts
Pint of milk
Rice, Chicken, Vegetables
Pint of milk
Fish, Sweet potato, Vegetables
Pint of milk
Peanut butter, Toast, Banana
Pint of milk
He’d also snack between most of these meals with PAS Nutrition treats and shakes taking his calorie total to roughly 4500 to 6000 calories per day!
However, Sam’s pretty passionate about letting you know that this isn’t the same for every player, and you should always eat for your personal goals and physique.