Rugby is a super-intense sport, but if you are a rugger, this is hardly news. A game of rugby can leave you tired, sore, bruised, and dehydrated – all wrapped up in an endorphin high, especially if your team won.

Your muscles will have been damaged and broken down, your muscle glycogen stores will be depleted, and you may also be dehydrated.

Your body will, given time, sleep, and food, recover all on its own, but that recovery will be very slow. The chances are you need to get back in the gym, back on the practice field, and ready for next weekend’s game, so you need to recover faster.

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You can never have enough protein powder - Twin Whey

It is commonly believed that, after intense exercise, your body’s ability to utilize nutrients is enhanced. This is often referred to as the post-exercise window of opportunity. Nutrients consumed during this period, which lasts approximately two hours, are preferentially directed toward your muscles, speeding up the recovery process. (1)

For this reason, what you consume immediately after your rugby game can have a big impact on your rate of recovery. Miss this window and your recovery may be slower as a result. And while you could just chug down a beer and scoff a hotdog, you’ll recovery faster if you take post-game nutrition a little more seriously.

While the two-hour window is an accepted phenomenon, not all nutritional experts believe it exists. Don’t let this contradictory stance put you off consuming good-quality nutrients immediately after your game. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s also worth noting that most exercise nutrition studies are done on unfit college students, and not hardcore ruggers, and just because one study dismisses the post-exercise window doesn’t mean you should too.

Post-workout nutrition has three main purposes:

  • Glycogen replenishment
  • Halt muscle catabolism
  • Enhance muscle anabolism

In other words:

  • Replace the energy you have used
  • Stop muscle breakdown
  • Speed up the process of muscle repair and growth

This will result in:

  • Faster, more complete recovery
  • Less muscle soreness
  • Improved immune system function

While you could eat healthy wholefoods, this is not always convenient. Some ruggers aren’t hungry after a game, and wholefoods can be slow to digest, meaning you end up missing that vital post-exercise window of opportunity. Also, a wholefood meal requires preparation and may need refrigerating which can be impractical unless your club has good cooking/storage facilities.

A viable alternative to solids is consuming fluids and, in particular, shakes and smoothies. Fluids are easier to digest, will reach your muscles more quickly, are easily transportable, and can often be tolerated even if you don’t feel hungry.

Supplements like Post Rugby can help enhance your post-game revival, but most ruggers need more than isolated amino acids and creatine for full recovery. They need real food too! Post Rugby a great job at kick-starting the recovery process, but to keep the recovery machine rolling, you need protein, carbs, and calories too.

You can easily create your own post-rugby smoothies by combining whey protein with a good source of fast-acting carbs such as glucose. For example, just gulp down a Gatorade with a protein shake chaser. However, Ruck Science ruggers are a much more discerning group of players who want their post-game feed to be tasty as well as effective.

Here are EIGHT easy to make post-rugby smoothies to enhance your recovery. Just toss all the indigents listed into a blender, blitz on high for 60 seconds, and then enjoy! Add five grams of creatine to any of the smoothies below to supercharge your after-match recovery.

Smoothie #1 – Chocolate brownie batter recovery shake

Chocolate might seem like an unhealthy ingredient best reserved for cheat meals, but it’s actually very high in antioxidants. Antioxidants can help slow the production of free-radicals, rogue molecules that can cause muscle soreness and a host of other unwanted problems. It also tastes great making it perfect if you are a rugger who loses his or her appetite after a game.

  • 1 large banana
  • 1/4 cup coffee, brewed
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 scoops chocolate Rugby Whey
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon dark chocolate chips 

Smoothie #2 – Peaches and cream

This simple but fruity and refreshing smoothie is ideal for after rugby on a hot day. As well as carbs and protein, it also contains plenty of antioxidants for enhanced recovery. The cinnamon increases insulin sensitivity, promoting the speedy uptake of glucose and amino acids into your muscles and liver.

  • 1 cup canned peaches
  • ½ cup fat-free natural yogurt
  • 2 scoops vanilla Rugby Whey
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Smoothie #3 – Strawberry shortcake

A post-rugby smoothie that tastes like a dessert? You bet! If you have a sweet tooth, this smoothie the perfect way to indulge it.

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry preserve
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk
  • 1-2 scoops cookies ’n’ cream Rugby Whey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Smoothie #4 – Pina colada

This smoothie is loaded with fruity flavor and antioxidants. If you like cocktails more than beer, this is the smoothie for you!

  • 1 cup pineapple chunks – canned, frozen, or fresh
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 scoops vanilla Rugby Whey

Smoothie #5 – Strawberry PBJ

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are an easy way to bump up your daily calorie intake for weight gain. High in protein and carbs, this combination of foods is a tasty way to bulk up. They also make for an awesome post-rugby recovery smoothie.

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (no added sugar, salt, or palm oil)
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 scoops strawberry whey protein
  • 1 tablespoon sugar-free strawberry ice cream syrup

Smoothie #6 - Black forest

Delicious is not a big enough word to describe how good this smoothie tastes! Don’t let the presence of spinach put you off – you won’t even know it’s there. And if high-iron spinach is good enough for Popeye, it’s good enough for you too!

  • ½ cup pitted cherries, frozen, fresh, or canned
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed and de-stalked
  • 1 cup chocolate almond milk
  • 2 scoops chocolate Rugby Whey
  • 1 tablespoon cherry preserve (optional)

Smoothie #7 – Almond joy

Here at the Ruck Science office, Almond Joy bars are our favorite cheat day snack. They might not be especially healthy, but they taste great! This smoothie tastes uncannily like an Almond Joy bar, so if you love this confectionary treat, you’ll love this smoothie too.

  • 1 cup reduced fat coconut milk
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons natural almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop chocolate Rugby Whey
  • 4 dates, pitted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Smoothie #8 – Spinach recovery

This vegetarian-friendly recovery shake is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and tastes pretty good too. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add a couple more pitted dated.

  • 2-3 cups baby spinach, washed and de-stalked
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup crushed ice
  • 1 tablespoon natural almond or peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina (optional)
  • 3 dates – pitted
  • 1 scoop pea protein or similar

Sipping on a smoothie after your rugby game can definitely help speed up recovery. Try these recipes or create your own. Just whip up your smoothie before the game, put it in a thermos, and gulp it down after the final whistle. Exercise nutrition doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective!

AUTHOR

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.