How the Wallabies Find Their Nutritional Combinations
The Wallabies rugby team is one of the most revered sporting lineups in the world. These elite athletes need to provide their body with optimal nutrition in order to perform at their best. We sat down with Qantas Wallabies dietitian Kate Pumpa to determine exactly what goes in to the Wallabies’ ideal foodie combination.
Tell us about a day on a plate for the Wallabies during training season
As an example, on a typical heavy training day, a Wallabies player would consume the following (obviously this varies amongst players!):
- Breakfast: 2-3 eggs with 2 pieces of toast, avocado, lean cut bacon, with juice and/or water
- Pre-training snack: fruit and/or nuts i.e. almonds, walnuts, cashew
- Post training snack (or in between sessions snack if going between weights and field): a protein smoothie or a homemade protein ball
- Lunch: 2-3 sandwiches or toasties with ham or chicken, low fat cheese, salad, fruit and yoghurt
- Post training snack: fruit and/or nuts or a homemade protein ball
- Afternoon snack: either fruit, yoghurt, sandwich or a smoothie
- Dinner: consists of lean protein (fish, chicken, beef), lots of vegetables or salad (half the plate) plus some carbohydrate (rice, pasta, noodles, sweet potato)
- Evening snack: depends on each player and their energy requirements, but could be fruit, yoghurt, sandwich, smoothie, toast or fruit toast.
- The Wallabies also drink lots of water throughout the day.
What foods do the Wallabies focus on to encourage stamina and energy?
Carbohydrates are key! They provide the majority of the Wallabies’ energy during a training session. Typical carb-loaded foods include; fruit, bread, rice, cereal, pasta and some dairy foods. If it’s a long training session, some of the Wallabies consume sports drinks to help them maintain their exercise intensity and focus.
What about fluid intake? What do the Wallabies drink and how much?
Depending on the type of training session and the temperature, the players can lose anything from 1kg up to 5-6kg of fluid during a session! They consume a lot of water during training and throughout the day, but also use sports drinks in some specific sessions. The players also love the occasional smoothie, milk and coffee.
What do the Wallabies eat on game day to ensure they perform at their best?
Game day is where Wallabies ‘nutritional intake varies the most. Some players sleep in and have a brunch (similar to breakfast), then have a pre-game meal which could be as little as a sandwich or as big as a serve of spaghetti bolognaise, noodles or a rice dish. Other players prefer to get up, have breakfast, lunch and then a small top up as their pre-game meal (i.e. breakfast as per training day, sandwich or hot dish at lunch and perhaps a smaller meal pre-game).
There is always fruit, yoghurt, crumpets, fruit toast and pancakes available at the club for players to top up their carbohydrate stores prior to the game. Fluid intake is also a big focus and the Wallabies tend to drink a lot of water and fruit/vegetable smoothies.
If the Wallabies want to indulge, what foods would they select?
Ice-cream is a very popular choice!
Do they supplement their diet with any sports nutrition?
Yes, most guys will consume WPI (Whey Protein Isolate) post a weights session to assist with muscle growth and repair, and a bulking protein after a heavier field session to aid recovery. Some players use creatine and other ergogenic aids.
What is their ideal nutrition/meal combination?
Ideally half the plate is full of vegetables or salad, a quarter is lean protein and the other quarter carbohydrate. Often the plates are stacked quite high due to the volume of food the players need to consume, therefore their plates are a lot fuller than a typical person’s intake.
Why is magnesium such an important mineral to have in the Wallabies’ diet?
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body. It helps to maintain normal nerve, muscle and cardiac function, immune function, bone health - all incredibly important functions for an athlete.