Author Emily Scarratt
Note: This article is supporting content to the Optimum Nutrition for Health and Performance course and is for educational purposes only. It does not reflect the opinion of Glanbia Performance Nutrition, nor is it intended for product marketing purposes.
The Women’s Six Nations is in full swing and Optimum Nutrition was lucky enough to catch up with Emily Scarratt, England’s match winning try scorer against France and the World Rugby Player of the Year 2019. She shared an insight into her approach to nutrition and how the England Rugby Women fuel and recover around game day.
Q: What is your nutrition ethos?
Firstly, I love food! I grew up on a stereotypical farm with a Mum who is a great home cook. So I’m quite traditional and homely but have always enjoyed food rather than just fuelling for my body. It’s also really important to me where possible to eat good quality British food.
My nutrition ethos is probably to eat everything in moderation and eating for the situation. There are lots of different times in the week or in the season that require slightly different nutritional demands so it’s important to understand where you’re at and how best to make the most of the current phase you are in.
Q. Do you have a set routine for your game ay nutrition?
A. My nutrition around game day depends on whether it is an international or home game. For last weekend’s game against France our food was provided for us at the hotel we were staying at, which our nutritionist would have advised on to ensure we got the correct balance of energy and recovery nutrients. For home games or club games my nutrition is self-prescribed, so whatever I feel like eating. Kick-off times and travelling to games also impacts our nutrition, both what we eat and when, so it is constantly changing.
Q. How do you fuel for games?
A. I often struggle to eat a huge amount on game day and I hate feeling full before a match so I always try and make sure I've fuelled really well the day before. I don’t have a set routine of foods to eat, I just make sure I eat all of the food groups; protein, carbohydrates and fats. I always eat slightly more carbohydrate, by adding an extra portion to each of my main meals, in the couple of days before a game but other than this my eating habits are similar to the rest of the week. My favourite carbohydrate is potato or sweet potato but I’m not that fussy!
The day before the game I will always have an Optimum Nutrition protein shake made with milk after the Captains Run to support muscle recovery and for my evening meal I will have a decent meal with plenty of carbs and vegetables. I prefer a chicken/fish as my protein source, as mentally, I find they make me feel fresher and lighter. My hydration protocol probably doesn’t change from training to game days as I am always conscious of being hydrated and drink mainly water to ensure that I am always pretty hydrated.
Q: What is your game day nutrition routine?
A: My day starts with breakfast which is usually a combination of toast, beans, egg and maybe some bacon. I may also have porridge with some raspberries if I am at home but I am fussy when other people make my porridge, they just don’t do it right.
Coffee is always one of my staples on game day too, if the coffee is rubbish in the hotel I'll have my little cafetiere or will go and find some nice quality coffee. Although caffeine has performance benefits I drink it mainly as I just love the stuff! I always have 1 to 2 cups before a game, I don’t take any additional caffeine as I find regular coffee gives me that focus I need for the game.
My lunch is always quite small depending on what time kick-off is. I prefer not to feel full prior to playing.
During the game I focus on hydrating with a mixture of water and sports drinks and I take a carbohydrate gel at half time.
I find it much easier to take on liquids than eat immediately after the game, so my recovery process starts with a whey protein shake (Gold Standard 100% Whey Chocolate Hazelnut is the current favourite among the team) made with milk ideally but sometimes it is water. Unfortunately we often don’t have the facilities or provisions to make anything more exciting. Our post-match meal can vary in quality and choice particularly if we are away but I love well flavoured meats and lots of delicious pasta/potatoes. I always have a desert on game day or some type of sweet food. My favourite dessert will depend on what I fancy, if it’s been cold a classic sponge and custard always goes down well but chocolate never fails either!
The following day is focused on replenishing and repairing so focusing on quality proteins; lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy and refuelling carbohydrates; porridge, pasta, rice, wholegrain breads, as well as hydration.
Optimum Nutrition is proud to be the Official Performance Nutrition Partner to England Rugby and wishes the men and wome every success in the Six Nations.
For more great nutrition for performance tips, videos and recipes vist the Food for Rugby section on EnglandRugby.com