What's on the Dragon's Menu?
The more you put in, the more you get out. A training mantra that often brings success but from a nutritional perspective the literal translation will likely lead to weight gain. The meaning behind the words however, should be that if taken seriously, nutrition can prove to be difference in achieving your goal. This week Maximuscle have enlisted the help of Welsh and British & Irish Lions international George North for his take on nutrition and what makes him successful on the rugby field.
A dragon’s fire needs fuel
George North is the new breed of winger, at 6 ft 4 in (194 cm) and just over 17 stone (109 kg), sprinting down the wing he looks more like a forward than a back but his speed and agility make him a formidable athlete; certainly a change to the previous welsh line of the shorter and smaller Shane Williams at 5 ft 6 in (170 cm) and 12 st 8 lbs (80 kg).
Genetics aside, turning North’s size and strength into a functional benefit requires the correct balance between training and nutrition. Using a aptly likeness to a steam train, North needs a substantial amount of fuel but being calculated with his choices and cutting out the guess work, George is able to stay lean whilst developing in training – making the next stop, the try line.
Since 1919 (Harris & Benedict), scientists have calculated a theoretical model to help determine an individual’s calorific requirements which has been adapted over the years to include activity adjustments. Here is North’s theoretical nutrition requirement based on the Harris Benedict formula.
|Weight||Height||Age||BMR||Activity Factor||Total KCal||CHO %||PRO %||FAT %|
|CHO (kcal)||PRO (kcal)||FAT (kcal)|
|CHO (g)||PRO (g)||FAT (g)|
CHO per BM = 5.6
PRO per BM = 1.9
By inputting North’s weight, height and age, the Harris Benedict formula recommends that he consume 4093 kcal on training days, with 614 g of carbohydrate, 205 g of protein and 91 g of fat. This proposed diet is then manipulated depending on George’s training load.
Not Just Any Dragon
For someone of North’s stature, maintaining or indeed developing is a sizeable task. Below is a ‘day in the life’ of the welsh winger and at a glance you would see that it’s hard for George to do anything else but eat. Put simply, big cars have big engines and for that big engine to keep going, it needs a lot of fuel. George North is the 4x4 of the Welsh back line.
|0700||Breakfast||Breakfast burrito - 1 egg, whole wheat tortilla||460||51||23||20|
|Orange juice (300ml)||132||27||0||0|
|0800||Pre Training||Cyclone Shake||262||13||30||6|
|1100||Post Training||Promax Milk (330ml)||212||19.8||30||0.7|
|1300||Lunch||Salmon Steak (100g) with mixed vegetables (160g), sweet potato (150g)||452||44||35||15|
|Mixed fruit and low fat yoghurt (bowl)||225||45||6||2.3|
|Orange juice (300ml)||132||27||0||0|
|1600||Post Training||Cyclone Shake||262||13||30||6|
|1700||Dinner||Chicken and peanut stir fry (2 chicken breasts)||485||40||43||17|
|Banana pancakes with peanut butter and yoghurt (2 pancakes)||361||37||15||17|
|2100||Evening Snack||Sweet and salted popcorn (17g bag)||78||10||1||3|
|2200||Before Bed||Full fat milk (300ml)||195||14||10||11|
*Nutritional information calculated using the USDA Nutritional database
In comparing the scientific recommendations with North’s diet, you will notice that when eating healthy, avoiding high fat foods and simple carbohydrates, meeting the high demand requires a sizable diet. For George meeting both the calorie and carbohydrate content can be a challenge but is one that he embraces particularly on hard training days.
Eating every 2-3 hours is the only way North can get anywhere close to his calorific requirements whilst trying to eat healthily. He aims to eat 20-40 g protein in each meal (where possible) to support muscle maintenance and development. George uses Maximuscle powders in and around training, as this supplements his diet in a convenient manner.
Maximuscle Top Tips for Muscle Development
It would be easy to meet the required calories by eating unhealthy but for individuals wishing to support muscle development finding the right balance is crucial. Taking North’s diet as an example, here are the Maximuscle top tips to help you build your own strategy:
- Eat every 2-3 hours to regulate metabolism
- Think about eating calories for exercise rather than cutting them for vanity
- Include protein in every meal to support muscle growth
- Plan and prepare your meals the day before to limit deviation and stay focused
- Always include a cheat meal, perhaps a celebration. For George this is the post game meal and beer with his opposite number
North Fun Facts:
- North would need to eat at least 7 chicken breasts a day to meet his protein requirement
- George North needs over 4000 kcal on a training day, one an half times the daily calorie recommendation for a man
- On training days, North should consume closer to 2,500 kcal just from carbohydrate and a further 1,500 from protein and fat
- Creatine is naturally present in foods –2 g of creatine in 450 g of red meat, 4.5 g of creatine in 450 g of salmon
As featured in North’s dietary plan, Maximuscle Cyclone is his product of choice. Each serving of Cyclone provides 30 g of protein, 5 g of creatine monohydrate, 1.5 g of calcium HMB and 11.3 g of glutamine. Cyclone contains 262 kcal with 13 g of carbohydrate (of which sugars – 2.1 g). Cyclone is an all-in-one shake designed to meet the specific needs of serious exercisers, just like George North. “It’s a great post workout shake with creatine to help improve my strength and power.” Says North
Training is crucial but nutrition is vital – never take a rest day from nutrition. For players such as George North, at the top of their game, it’s the smallest margins that make the difference. For the professional player, their surroundings help to support and ingrain best practice but for those aspiring it’s about doing what you can. Take some of the basics and apply them in a way that keeps it simple. For a nutrition plan to work it needs to be completely focused on you and tailored to your needs.