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If you’ve ever played rugby league, you’ll appreciate just how demanding the game is. Rugby league pros need to be fit, strong and healthy, and that means eating the right kind of diet.

Bulking up doesn’t just mean eating whatever you want. To stay in prime condition and to pack on the muscle where you want, it’s important to get the right sort of calories.

Take a look at these top tips from rugby league professionals to help you plan your pre-season meals.

Protein-Rich Meals

A training diet to bulk up pre-season is very different as this is the key time to add extra weight and get in shape for the games ahead. When it comes to piling on muscle, the undisputed king of the food groups is protein.

A rugby league pro may be taking in around 4000 calories per day but protein will form a significant part. This is because protein provides the building blocks for muscle growth, and also helps promote healing and repair after a hard work-out.

Some of the best proteins to include in your diet include kangaroo, lamb, chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs, legumes and dairy.

Alongside carbohydrates, you’ll need to be taking in carbohydrates plus lots of fruit and veg. This provides your body with a good supply of energy to train, and helps you to stay fit and well.

Experts recommend having a protein and carbohydrate snack before training and afterwards, to provide maximum energy and rapid recovery.

A Cost-Effective Training Diet

Processed foods may seem quicker, more convenient and cheaper but they’re a disaster for an athlete who wants to bulk up and be at their best. It can take a little more preparation but if you plan ahead, fresh food can be just as convenient as pre-packed snacks and meals.

You don’t need to spend a small fortune either. If you check out the Costco catalogue you’ll find lots of nutrient-rich foods at low prices, enabling you to eat healthily without breaking the bank.

Some of the offers to look out for include $7 off a large jar of Natural Raw Nut Mix, $7.90 off Atlantic Salmon and $1.50 off sweetcorn. There are lots more discounts available, helping you to create a balanced and nutritious diet at the lowest possible cost.

Fitting Around a Busy Lifestyle

Many amateur athletes have to fit exercise in around a work schedule. This can make it hard to fit in sufficient calories during the pre-season bulking period. Prepping food in advance and planning your diet will help, but it can still feel as if you’re cramming food in.

One solution that rugby league stars often rely on is protein shakes. This enables you to create the exact formula you need for your diet plan.

Rugby league stars such as Oliver Gildart from Wigan Warriors top up their protein shakes with a scoop of creatine, ensuring that every mouthful adds calories and maximum nutritional value.

There’s no shame in adding protein shakes to your diet. Providing you’re also consuming lots of fresh protein, carbohydrates and fruit/veg, protein shakes can help you to achieve the required bulk.