James Haskell Pre Match Nutrition

James Haskell Pre Match Nutrition

In light of my new Rugby Fit EBook or to give it its full official title “An Introduction to Becoming and Remaining RugbyFit” which heavily features and emphasizes the key importance of nutrition. I thought it might be opportune to talk a bit about my own personal pre match nutrition. This covers my daily eating plan and thoughts on what’s needed nutrition wise for a rugby player. It’s not rocket science but it does need some careful consideration.

Most people complain they don't get results from their training, but most of the time it’s because they don't get their diet right. You can read all about this information in my book sample some extracts Here.

In fact let’s get all the plugs out the way first. If you want to find out more about anything to do with rugby, training and nutrition, then please visit www.jameshaskell.com or check out our YouTube channel Here.

Pre match nutrition is of vital importance as a professional rugby player and my approach and indeed understanding of the subject is something which has changed significantly for me personally over the years.

Like anything with regard to training and nutrition, it is a very individual thing, what works for me might not work for you.

However, I want to give you an outline of the kind of protocol I am following at the moment, which has been put together by my nutritionists Glenn Matten and Aiden Goggins, whose latest book The Sirt Food Diet has been causing a minor sensation.

As my knowledge has increased regarding nutrition and training, so my approach to things has changed markedly. For example when I was at school playing for Wellington College age 17, the first team had a tradition of meeting the evening before a game and having a big pasta cook up with carbs, fats and loads of protein.

We would then go to sleep on a full stomach. Wake up and follow the usual school day. Which would include normal breakfast and lunch, with no supplements or extra food. There was no routine other than the cook-up, however revolutionary this may have been at the time.

This is still the norm for lots of rugby playing folk. However If that's what works for them and they are getting good results then there is no need to change.

The idea of this big graze is all about a form of carb loading, as well as just something that has always been done.

So as the old adage goes - If it ain’t broke don't fix it.

However it’s not for me.  I try to eat consistently throughout the week, and only change minor things for game day.

Personal Routine.

The night before a game I tend not to do anything overly special for my nutrition.

A lot of the time I just follow my usual diet plan, which is to eat 4/5 times a day.

For breakfast I go with a steak and nuts or a variant of that sort, as long as it is a protein based start to the day. Eggs are my staple and I will have them in some form or another every day. I will then also have porridge and a greens shake (I will cover off what’s in this shake in another time).

I tried for a while starting the day on just protein, but because of the performance aspect of my training, I now always have carbs.

Then the remaining meals eat throughout the day contain 250g protein, 300g carbs and unlimited vegetables.

The idea being this is the core of everything I do, as I need to fuel my training and performance goals. The key thing to remember is that I am eating to play, not eating to look good.

I try to get certain foods into my diet during the week, based on the blood tests I have had as a result o working with Goggins and Matten [I told you things had changed!!].

Olives, oyster mushrooms, hearts, berries etc I won’t list them all off now. Variety is the spice of life you need to try different things and get as much color in your diet as possible.

I have always found food prep hard and time consuming, there is no easy round it. If you want to eat well then you to take the time to buy and prepare food. I always have a cool bag with me with food in it that I prepared either in the morning or on the weekend. However, I recently started working with a company called Fresh Fitness Foods who have revolutionized my approach to diet.

They have linked up with my nutritionists and now I have a bespoke diet plan in the form of ready made meals that arrive at my door every morning. This means that every day I have food in a cool bag prepped to my needs. To check them out to see if the idea resonates Click Here.

As I have mentioned already I would eat normally the day before a game, which is usually a Friday. Pre the days working with a nutritionist, I would lay in on a game day, perhaps have some porridge for breakfast when I got up, then eat a large pre match meal some three to four hours  before the game. That essentially would be it.

Now, I wake up at my usual time, which is relatively early. This is the same if I have an evening kick off but not as early clearly.

I then commence with my first meal of protein and carbs. This would be something like Eggs and porridge. Three to four hours after that I’m straight into a meal of protein and carbs again, consisting perhaps of grilled salmon, brown rice / butternut squash and of course unlimited green veg. I may also have some buckwheat pancakes post this.

If it’s an evening kick off I have breakfast, lunch, a pre match meal and then a shake some two hours before I play.

If it's a normal afternoon kick off, as I have mentioned I would have breakfast, a pre match meal (listed above) and finally a shake. The shake would contain amongst other things some Beat It shots.


Throughout the morning on game day, or any day in fact, I would be massively hydrating; this is an area I really tend to focus on pre match as I often wake up dehydrated.

If I don't get this sorted then I feel terrible. One of the methods I use to help me hydrate is a supplement called H2Pro, which is an effervescent electrolyte tablet; I take this with water as my first port of call upon waking. I use these tablets every day to get myself ready then throughout the morning of the game I will continue to drink water right up till kick off.


In terms of supplementation, mine is pretty limited on the day of a game. After waking in the morning I have the H2PRO tablet with water as I told you. Mixed with this as well is a spoon full of Glutamine. I often have a green tea, with a spoonful of Virgin single estate coconut oil, Tagaloa mixed in.

 Pre-match I take my pre-trainer Hades from my own supplement range to give me a boost.

Hades, which is Informed sport tested and certified, was singularly designed by myself and leading nutritional guru and expert, Katherine Andreasen, with performance in mind.

It is all natural with NO additives, with caffeine and B-vits to provide the energy. From what I have been repeatedly told, it’s the best pre trainer going and gives you none of the side effects that others do. It is far better to take than Red Bull or caffeine tablets.

Post Match

The focus is all about recovery and hydration.

I will always have a couple of cherry active drinks, mixed with 500ml of water, so that's a liter of fluid back on straight away. I will then take on board a recovery shake from Maximuscle’s range.

The important thing to note is there are loads of different methods and you have to find the one that makes you feel good. The key with anything to do with nutrition or training is that if you feel good when you are performing then you are doing the right thing.

Obviously you can look at the 1% to try and improve yourself, which is what you should always strive to do.

You can play about with different things; it is of course about trial and error really. If you eat just two meals before a game then make a note of how you feel, if you feel great then that’s the plan for you, if you don’t and you need more energy, then try eating 3 meals or utilizing some supplements I have talked about below. Focus on diet first though.

I am always wary about detailing down what I eat as I wouldn’t recommend anyone to follow what I do exactly, as this is specifically to me.

People’s ability to deal with carbohydrates for example differs greatly. If you are overweight then you may have some underlying issues or your ability to deal with carbs or fats isn’t great.

When you are looking to lose weight the whole idea is to get your body to deal with carbs and or fats more efficiently to digest and utilize them properly.

My diet is very carb heavy because I can tolerate it, probably due to the fact that I have a lot of muscle mass, which is fuelled by glycogen and I need carbs to fuel myself.

Some people are notable to do that; they may have food intolerances or the like. So please be very wary. Always try things out first when there is no risk.

Try nut butters but remember it is a point of experimentation, don’t just rush out and do it before a game as you may feel bloated and not able to play properly. The golden rule is always to try things out first when training.

If you want to know more about what I do then check out my new eBook “A introduction to becoming and remaining Rugby Fit” In the book I cover off nutrition and supplements in far more detail, as well as the training methods that go with them.

We have had some fantastic reviews of the book from a huge variety of sources so if you are interested please check it out Here.

Plus if you have any questions then either email me directly on askhask@jameshaskell.com or across any of our social media channels Twitter and Instagram @jameshaskellhf

– Entry was posted on January 27th, 2016 by James Haskell

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