Welshman Alex Cuthbert has enjoyed a spectacular rugby career, achieving in just three years what people spend their lives working towards; starting out with the Cardiff Blues in 2011, it took just just two years to then clock up appearances for the national team and the British & Irish Lions.
After spending his entire career in Wales, Alex made the move to the formidable Exeter Cheifs to find a change of scene and some new opportunities; we got a few moments with the 29 year old to quiz him on how he fuels himself as an elite athlete…
So Alex, ahead of a game, let's say the night before, what sort of meals/foods are you having? “I will always have a large bowl of pasta with pesto, spinach and bacon. Always some chocolate or sweets too”.
Do you eat much in the morning of a game? “I will have my normal bagel, scrambled eggs and bacon, and depending on the time of the game I will have a bigger portion if the game is a little later”.
Are you eating much after a game? Can you eat pretty much anything you like? “I don’t tend to eat much straight after a game but usually when I get home and relax I’ll order a takeaway”.
Has your diet changed or developed since your career began? “My diet has changed a lot as I have developed my knowledge and knowing what works best for me, in terms of what I stay away from, a lot of sugary foods during the week, and I eat a lot more fish than meat!”
Do you eat much when you are training; do you have a protein bar or shake within easy reach? “I will have breakfast before training then try and have a shake in between weights and rugby sessions, then lunch before leaving and having a dinner at home. I have about 2 shakes a day”
How important is hydration to an athlete at your level? “Hydration is essential to being a professional athlete as being dehydrated can lead to muscle strains and other injuries, also it affects your performance in training which can then affect selection for the weekend”
Max Lahiff (rugby player) came down to our studio and said sleep and nutrition are king for recovery, do you find the same? “Max is exactly right as I think recovery is the biggest thing specially as you get older like me, I really struggle to train at my optimum level when I eat badly or don’t get the required sleep needed. Also days off are key in my recovery, mobility down the pool, anything so you can grow and maintain”.
What are the most common meals in your house? “Most common meal is cod with a lot of vegetables and sweet potato mash”.
Is there anything you actively avoid? Ice baths!
Final questions away from nutrition: Do you have a favourite place to compete? “On the golf course”
Is there a particular game that stands out in your career so far? “First test in Brisbane for the British and Irish lions”
Do you have any pre-game rituals i.e. putting your left sock on first, or always wearing the same underwear? “I have to be last to leave the changing room before the warm-up, and sit on the left hand side of the bus when travelling to games”.
What piece of equipment is in your bag, that people might be surprised about (for example, a tennis ball for stretching, or a particular toiletry, or piece of clothing)? “Not so much equipment but I gather programmes from every game I play or involved in”.