Super foods for Super Rugby

Super foods for Super Rugby

Team nutritionist, Dave Shaw, is now in his third season helping get the team on track with their diet. He’s on hand at training sessions to assist with the gruelling preseason, as well as improving body composition, which often includes packing on the muscle and dropping skinfolds

To help maintain performance on the field, Dave recommends super foods for our Super team. We all know that getting back into the swing of things at work feels like a superhuman effort. To help out, Dave’s got a list of super foods that assist with training adaption, immunity and performance.


Beetroot contains a high amount of nitrate and is converted to nitric oxide in the body, which enhances how the body uses oxygen at submaximal exercise intensities. Considering much of a rugby game is played at below threshold pace, beetroot and other high nitrate foods can be very beneficial.


High protein milk contains twice the protein as normal milk. In an athlete’s diet, when there is limited time to eat, getting enough protein can be a problem. High protein milk is a convenient source of high quality protein that is essential for all rugby players and also helps you get through the work-day and your gym sessions.


Most probably coffee is already helping you get through the morning, but it can be hard to justify high caffeine consumption. You’ll be pleased to know that many elite athletes consume coffee as their primary source of caffeine. Caffeine reduces how tired you feel during exhaustive exercise and can improve skill execution – even while sitting behind a desk. It’s not a case of the more the better, however, as you only need a small dose to get a performance benefit.


Bananas are a convenient source of carbohydrate. Carbs are not only essential for high intensity performance and rugby games; they also help maintain a strong immune system during exhaustive exercise. When players are being pushed to their max repeatedly, like during pre-season and games, consuming enough carbs can help prevent sickness.  


Salmon is loaded with high quality protein, essential for muscle growth and immunity, and healthy omega-3 fats, essential for daily recovery and general health. Aim to consume 2-3 serves of fatty fish each day, like salmon, to reap the benefits!


While not exactly being a food, water is crucial to maintain hydration. Dehydration can lead to early fatigue, poor recovery from training and impaired performance, especially during long meetings! Drinking plenty of water is a fundamental part of every rugby player’s diet and should be the same for you. There’s no exact amount you need to drink each day. A good guide is whether your urine is consistently clear or cloudy – and no, beer isn’t a water substitute.


Kiwifruit is packed full of vitamin C, which helps support a strong immune system. Overdosing on vitamin C, which often occurs when using supplements, can impair some training adaptations – and therefore subsequent performance. When it’s acquired through food, you’ll find that it’s easy to achieve an optimal dose. Nobody likes a summer cold, especially in air conditioned offices.