Rugby Diet – what should you have for breakfast?

It’s unclear who first said the words “you are what you eat,” but whoever it was, they were on to something. Every morsel of food that passes between your lips has an effect on your body. If you eat healthily, that effect will be healthy. But, if you feed your body innutritious junk, your body won’t have the nutrients it needs to function correctly.

Most ruggers know they need plenty of protein, carbs, and healthy fats to power their bodies through training and playing rugby. They may even take supplements to plug any nutritional gaps.

So why then do so many of us start our days with nothing more than a big bowl of breakfast cereal?

Breakfast cereals are arguably the least healthy way to start your day. They are quick, convenient, and a good source of calories, but when it comes to providing your body with nutrients, most cereals are sadly lacking.

The good news is there are plenty of equally convenient breakfast foods you can eat before heading off to work or the gym. But, before we share our favorite breakfast recipes with you, let’s discuss what makes most breakfast cereals so unhealthy.

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Breakfast cereal 101

Breakfast cereals are low in fat and contain vitamins and minerals. Doesn’t that mean they are healthy? Unfortunately, and contrary to some pretty slick advertising, most breakfast cereals are very low in nutrients and provide your body with little more than empty calories.

Before you tuck into your next bowl of breakfast cereal, consider the following:

Highly processed

Everyone knows that processed foods are unhealthy. They are stripped of their nutrients, including fiber. A diet high in processed food is the very definition of unhealthy. Potato chips, microwave meals, processed deli meats, candy, and soda? All processed and all clearly bad for you.

Most breakfast cereals are no better. They are lightyears away from their base grain ingredients. And yet, this is how many of us choose to start the day. Some breakfast cereals contain very few unprocessed ingredients, but they are relatively rare.

Fortified with vitamins and minerals

Aware that processing removes vitamins and minerals, a lot of food manufacturers fortify their cereals with vitamins and minerals. This should be a good thing, but, in reality, it’s an admission that their cereal needs bolstering artificially to make it even remotely healthy.

While fortified vitamins and minerals are better than nothing, they still aren’t great. For a start, the vitamin and mineral ratios will not match those found in nature. That means you may not be able to absorb and utilize those substances.

Also, their boast of “100% RDA” might sound good, but it’s 100% of a very low number. Ruggers need more vitamins and minerals than the standard Recommended Daily Allowance. This is another example of how food manufacturers are trying to convince you that what you are eating is actually healthier than it is.

High sugar content

With very few exceptions, breakfast cereals are high in sugar. This is added sugar, rather than naturally occurring. For years we’ve been told that fat is unhealthy, but the truth is it’s sugar that’s the black hat-wearing villain of the nutritional world.

100 grams of a bland tasting cereal like corn flakes contains about ten grams of sugar, whereas something sweet like honey corn loops, contains a whopping 33 grams. That’s nearly seven teaspoons of sugar! Invariably, most ruggers will eat considerably more than 100 grams too.

Quick-releasing carbs

The combination of refined grains and added sugar means that the carbs in breakfast cereals are very fast-acting. As a result, they cause a rapid rise in blood glucose, followed by an equally rapid fall. That’s why, just an hour or so after eating a bowl of breakfast cereal, you are hungry again.

At best, these quick-releasing carbs will mean you have to put up with being hungry until lunchtime. However, you could also find yourself in an energy slump and unable to function at your best – at the office or in the gym. You may even have to grab another fast-acting food to bolster your falling energy levels. This can soon lead to weight gain.

Loaded with additives

Like any processed food, breakfast cereals often contain a lot of artificial additives. While these chemicals MAY be harmless, you still shouldn’t be filling your body with a lot of unpronounceable ingredients. Even natural foods contain chemicals, of course, but at least they are there because they always have been, and not because some guy in a white coat deemed them necessary. Most chemical additives are there simply to extend product shelf life and increase profitability. Their effect on your body is considered to be inconsequential.

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Breakfasts that are fit for ruggers

The occasional bowl of breakfast cereal probably won’t kill you, not right away, at least! But there are lots of better ways to start your day. Here are seven breakfasts that are ideal for ruggers. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a Master Chef contestant to make them, and you won’t have to get up two hours earlier either. However, you will need to do a little more than upend a cereal box and pour the milk.

1. Mashed avocado on toast

Avocados are amazing fruits. They are high in monounsaturated fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and they taste good too. You can prepare this delicious, healthy breakfast in minutes, and it makes enough for two.

Pop four slices of wholewheat bread in a toaster. Meanwhile, cut a ripe avocado in half, remove the stone, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash into a smooth paste with a little salt and pepper to taste, and then spread on the toast.

If you want to add some protein to this breakfast, grill a couple of rashers of bacon or poach an egg or two.

2. Chia seed pudding

Like all seeds, chia seeds are high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. They do, however, need to be soaked before eating, so you’ll need to make this breakfast the night before. Then you can just grab it and go as you head out the door to work.

Put 4-6 tablespoons of chia seeds in a bowl and cover with the milk of your choice. Use unsweetened almond or soymilk if you are lactose intolerant, or cow or goat milk if you are not.

Stir in a few fruits such as dried apricots, sultanas, blueberries, or goji berries, and then cover and leave in your fridge overnight. With no further attention, it’ll be ready to eat when you wake up. This breakfast is deceptively light and refreshing, but it’s also very filling and nutritious.

3. Grab-and-go peanut butter and banana bagel

We all have days when we need to eat breakfast as we run out the door. You could just grab a coffee and a muffin to go, but this quick to make breakfast is much healthier and more satisfying. Simply split a bagel and slather it with natural peanut butter. Top with a chopped banana and then drizzle with natural honey. Wrap in aluminum foil, and you are good to go.

4. Smoothies

Smoothies are ready in less than two minutes, and you can put them in a thermal cup so you can chug them down on the go. All you need is a blender. There are endless recipes you can make, but all you really need to do is follow this framework to create your own delicious smoothies.

  1. 1-2 cups of milk, dairy or non-dairy are preferred
  2. 1 cup soft fruit, e.g., bananas, diced pineapple, strawberries, etc.
  3. 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat, such as coconut oil, MCT oil, or peanut butter
  4. 1-2 scoops protein powder

Add 3-4 ice cubes if you want a cold, thick shake and then blitz for 60 seconds in your blender. Breakfast has never been so easy!

5. Old fashioned oatmeal

Before breakfast cereals, most people ate oatmeal. Steel-cut, plain oatmeal is high in fiber, low in sugar, and contains slow-releasing carbs in abundance. A bowl of oatmeal will keep you feeling full all morning. It could also help lower your cholesterol levels, so it’s good for your heart too.

Old fashioned oatmeal can take a few minutes to cook, but you can save a lot of time by preparing your oatmeal the night before. Allow it to soak overnight to thicken and then just warm it through. Easy!

Use twice as much fluid as you do oatmeal, and feel free to add dried fruit or some raw maple syrup or honey to sweeten it.

6. Greek yogurt fruit pot

Greek yogurt is loaded with protein, healthy fats, and beneficial minerals, including calcium. Providing you buy natural yogurt, it will also be free from added sugar. Best of all, Greek yogurt is “live” and contains billions of gut-friendly bacteria that are good for your digestive system.

For this ready in an instant breakfast, just combine one cup of plain, natural Greek yogurt with your choice of soft fruits. Top with a few chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey. Creamy and delicious!

7. Eggs, eggs, eggs!

High in protein and healthy fats, ready in minutes, and very tasty, eggs are the perfect breakfast food. You can scramble them, poach them, fry them in butter or coconut oil, or even chug them down Rocky-style, although this last option is not recommended!

Eggs are high in cholesterol, but that shouldn’t present a problem for most people. Your body produces about 1500 mg of cholesterol per day. If you eat high cholesterol foods like eggs, your body compensates by producing less itself. Most healthy people should be able to eat several eggs a couple of times per week without concern.

Need more than just protein and fats? Serve your eggs with a slice or two of wholewheat toast or combine three eggs with half a cup of oatmeal and scramble them together. Sweeten with a little maple syrup for a quick, easy, and nutritionally complete breakfast.

Conclusion

Breakfast should do more than just provide you with calories. It should be good for you too. With seven different options to choose from, you can have a different breakfast every day of the week. However, each one of these recipes is so good there is nothing wrong with picking just one and having it every day.

AUTHOR

Training Team

Training Team

We are building the most comprehensive library of training materials for amateur and pro rugby players. With protocols for hitting training goals including power, agility and strength. Our team consists of elite-level trainers from rugby, S&C, powerlifting and performance nutrition backgrounds.

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