Just as a machine needs good fuel to run at peak performance, proper nutrition is essential for powering the body – particularly in physically demanding jobs such as farming or professional sports.
We caught up with premiership rugby player and smallholder’s son Marcus Garratt from Coventry club Wasps about Veganuary, the importance of including meat and dairy in the diet, and backing British produce.
What does the daily diet of a professional rugby player consists of?
For me, breakfast usually includes poached eggs with salmon and ham and lunch is always a meat or fish option.
Other meals always consist of a large protein intake and a good fat source such as nuts or avocado, as well as lots of fruit and vegetables. Dairy products are also really important for bone health and recovering from a training session.
I only know a few professional boys who are vegetarians. I think they would really struggle to meet the protein demands.
Like farming, being a performance athlete is a physically demanding job. How important is including meat, fish and dairy in your diet?
It is incredibly important. As well as being rich in protein, meat, fish and dairy also contain many essential vitamins such as creatine (a dietary compound that provides energy for muscles – very beneficial in a strenuous job).
- Name: Marcus Garratt
- Age: 24
- Club: Wasps RFC
- Position: Second row
- Time playing professional rugby: Six years
- Previous clubs: Cornish Pirates
Do you think it would be possible to hit the nutritional requirements you need for your job without a balanced diet?
Some of the lads on the team have daily protein requirements of 350-400g. If the average chicken breast contains about 40g, having meat in the diet is a really easy way to make sure you meet the requirements you need to do the job.
While technically it would be possible to do this on a vegan diet, I think meeting such high demands on a daily basis would be incredibly difficult.
You are injured at the moment. Does balanced nutrition play a role in recovery?
Nutrition is the most important thing when it comes to recovering from an injury. Protein is critical for muscle recovery and repair and meat or fish is a really good source of this.
Sometimes an injury can mean you’re unable to do much in terms of movement, so implementing a good, well-balanced diet is essential.
What are your views on buying British and local produce?
I try to buy British produce all the time. I think it’s important to make sure it is really British – as in born and bred in the UK – rather than being reared abroad and just slaughtered in the UK.
Buying local produce is a really good way to ensure this. My dad has a smallholding and rears his own pigs, so it’s great to have meat from there when possible. When I played at a club close to the coast I used to eat fish because it was so readily available.
I also do lots of shooting and fishing and have always tried to eat a lot of wild meats, game and fish.
There’s so much wild, healthy, free meat in our countryside that people should make more use of – they make unbelievable eating and you know exactly where it has come from.
As part of the Veganuary campaign, inaccurate claims are being made against animal products, which is damaging for the food and farming industry. What are your thoughts on this?
The trouble with social media is that a lot of people are in denial about the truth. There are a lot of influential people promoting messages and products that may not be true and that is awful.
It’s really dangerous. For me, I think a balanced diet – including all food groups – is the way forward.