Despite food safety scandals, e.coli outbreaks and a massive downgrade in the company's financial projections, we know that the rugby-playing public is not going to stop eating at Chipotle. Nor should you. The Ruck Science team stops by the local CMG, at least, three times a week for a quick 1000 calories. And we almost always order the same thing. Here's what rugby players should eat at Chipotle both on off days and days when you have rugby training.
RUGBY-WEEK DIET PRINCIPLES
TRAINING V NON-TRAINING
For most amateur rugby players, the week is easily segmented into training and non-training days. We all know the schedule. Training Tuesdays & Thursdays. No-Training Monday, Wednesday, Friday. It's a pretty standard formula the world over. So let's assume your club follows the same schedule. That means you need two kinds of meals at Chipotle. Meals that support your energy needs during rugby training. And meals that support your energy needs on off-days when you're probably in the gym doing resistance work. They're both outlined below.
SUPPLEMENTS V WHOLE FOOD
Ruck Science provides a range of nutrition products for rugby players. However, none of our products, or any nutritional supplements for that matter, should be considered as replacements for meals containing whole foods. You can slam a protein shake quickly, but that's not a meal. The NZRU recently released some guidance on the use of nutritional supplements. In the guidance, they stress the need for young rugby players in particular to center their diets around whole foods instead of cache-laden supplements whose contents can be questionable. We wholeheartedly agree. Please only ever use our products to enhance performance and recovery, not as a means to skip lunch.
We don't suggest you eat Chipotle for every meal of the week. But let's say you already go to CMG for lunch every now and then. We want to make sure you're ordering the right thing on the right day. So let's assume that you've eaten breakfast and a snack during the morning and like most people, Chipotle is going to be your quick lunch stop. What we should order on Tuesdays when we have rugby training in 4-5 hours should be slightly different from what we order on Mondays when we're going to lift later.
WHAT TO AVOID AT CHIPOTLE
What's the point of eating Mexican food if you can't have these? Sorry to burst the bubble, but these three foods are cheap and easily available because they're bad for you. Whole wheat is only marginally better than a white flour Tortilla. Corn is packed full of simple carbohydrates that will spike your insulin. Cheese contains fats, which on the surface might match our diet principles. But those fats are mostly saturated fats (the bad kind) which aren't as energy-rich and contain a lot of cholesterol. Do not under any circumstances order a flour burrito with Cheese, Corn and processed Barbacoa. If you avoid these, you'll mostly get your meal right.
ENERGY NEEDS FOR RUGBY TRAINING
Last year one of our team members bought a pair of Athos shorts. Athos is a California-based company on the forefront of the quantified-self movement. The Shorts they have fit like Skins but include a range of sensors which track the energy output of your muscles as you exercise. It's all hooked up to an app that can show you in real-time which muscle are firing most or taking on more stress than other. I found that when performing Squats, I favored my left leg and, in general, my glutes worked harder than my quads. Something that was hard to measure until recently.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I also wore my Athos Shorts to a rugby 7s training and took measurements on things like the length of my efforts and the total number of calories I burned during the session. The 7s training lasted about 90mins. In that time, I burned 1400 calories and my average effort was 45 seconds.
1400 CALORIES!!! Now granted, this is in Texas, in July, in 105-degree heat. Nobody trains like that all the time. But for anyone who tells you they need to "get fit before they come to rugby training," kindly explain that they're kidding themselves. You're going to burn more calories at rugby training than doing just about anything else. You're always moving. You're sprinting, lifting, jogging and jumping for 90 minutes. And that is going to put a serious dent in your energy reserves.
With that in mind, the fuel you put in your body before rugby training is critical. We don't just mean slamming some pre-workout in the parking lot. We mean eating right in the hours before you arrive at the pitch. So if you're eating at Chipotle on a day when you have rugby training, you'll need to fuel up on foods that can provide you the energy you'll be expending. If you haven't moved to a LFHC diet yet, this probably means making your lunch rich in grain and legume-based complex carbohydrates; Rice and Beans.
Simple Carb Healthy Fat on rugby days (Tue, Thurs)
- Salad Bowl
- Extra Chicken
- Pick your Sauce
- Total Cost: $11.47
ENERGY NEEDS FOR GYM TRAINING
Our Athos Shorts also gave us the ability to estimate our caloric consumption during gym training sessions. Take for example our rugby leg workout. It's a 40 min session designed to be pretty brutal on your body. The program has you lifting in the Strength Emphasis portion of the force-velocity curve. And also incorporates plyometrics which is crucial for Speed-Strength Training. The result is a rough session that will absolutely leave you out of breath. More on this in our piece about focusing on strength training.
However, it doesn't compare to rugby training for the number of calories burned. We took caloric consumption measurements on 4 different versions of the program. The most we were ever able to burn was 450 calories. Now, before you jump all over me saying "yes, but you're not mentioning the post-workout energy consumption (EPOC)" - I know that. But what you eat after your evening gym training has little to do with what you should eat for lunch at Chipotle before you lift.
The point to understand here is that the majority of the calories burned as a result of heavy resistance training are not burned in the gym. They're burned in the hours after your workout where post-exercise nutrition is critical. So on days when you're lifting heavy, you don't need to be putting hundreds (or thousands) of complex carbohydrate calories in your body. You simply don't need that much fuel for the gym.
When you're chowing down at Chipotle on Monday, Wednesday or Friday, we suggest avoiding Rice and Beans. Focus on eating healthy fats and additional protein, the building blocks of muscle repair (along with whey protein of course). Avoid soft drinks and beer at all costs. The fill-your-own-cup situation at Chipotle makes this difficult. But worse than putting complex carbs in your body before gym training is doubling down on Gatorade. You don't need a whack of sugar like this at lunch time. All that's going to happen is a massive, and temporary, spike in your insulin and blood glucose that won't make a lick of difference under the squat bar.
MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY
Low Carb Healthy Fat on off days (Mon, Wed, Fri)
- Salad Bowl
- No Rice
- No Beans
- Extra Vegetables
- Extra Chicken
- Extra Pico
- Pick your Sauce
- Extra Guacamole
- Total Cost: $12.10