The Western Bulldogs’ Will Minson opens up about his nutrition plan and eating habits as he prepares to run out and perform on the field each week, in a piece for aflplayers.com.au, brought to you by Fitness First.
Nutrition is not only paramount for an athlete’s performance but to lead a healthy life.
My diet is based on consuming foods that are vibrant and fresh that will give me the best chance to live a full and healthy life and career as an athlete.
And it starts with purchasing the food.
I rarely shop at mainstream supermarkets. You’ll usually find me at the greengrocers and butchers helping myself to the more organic and less processed foods.
The closer it is to its original state, the better it will be for you. Eating a handful of nuts and seeds is a lot better than eating a bar with nuts and seeds in it.
To start my day, I have about a cup and a half of coconut water in the NutriBullet with some spinach, kale, a banana, some mango, organic peanut butter and a raw egg. I’ll get some dry muesli and pour half of the green liquid onto my muesli instead of having milk.
I used to be a massive caffeine addict. While running a café with the boys, I’d have three to five expressos every day but I finally kicked that habit last year. Now I only have one coffee a week if I feel like it, but generally make a cup of tea instead.
I eat a lot of fruit for the simple sugars – particularly when exercising – so my preferences are apples and bananas during a game rather than a handful of lollies.
My pantry is a big open pantry – it doesn’t even have a door on it – and I have a good selection of nuts, but the problem with that is once I have a handful of a certain variety, I just want to eat them all!
“If you throw any seafood at me, I’ll get excited about it and I probably eat a kilogram of flathead a week.”
If I’ve got time, I’ll make a little smoothie with coconut water, some fruit and maybe throw a bit of raw cocoa in the afternoon which should get me through to dinner. Just quietly, I’m also a sucker for dark chocolate, but I’m always aware of my quantities.
After training, a fruit trolley comes around so I’ll grab some fruit. Then lunch might be some form of chicken tandoori served with a quinoa salad or something like that or some steamed veggies.
That will usually get me through the next part of the day but I might have a handful of nuts when I get home.
My last meal of the day usually consists of some pan-fried fish such as a flathead with steamed veggies or a tossed salad.
My protein source is predominantly fish-based foods. If you throw any seafood at me, I’ll get excited about it and I probably eat a kilogram of flathead a week – it’s the nicest tasting fish there is.
- The unique thing for an athlete is you can’t skip meals and eat more later on. Eating regularly, accurately and healthily means you always have the right amount of energy to train and recover.
- Eating well-balanced, nutrient-rich food that gives you a slow energy release throughout the day is paramount for being able to maintain concentration in meetings and stay awake.
- I try to get most of my carbohydrates from vegetables such as sweet potato rather than eating any pasta or white rice. Remember that pasta only needs one more letter and it becomes ‘plasta’.
- It’s important to experiment with your diet and monitor your responses to it. I’ve found over the 14 years of playing AFL football that the best thing for me is to eat as close to fresh and as raw as possible, lots of fruit and vegetables and some lean protein.
- I try to have the best cut of meat, which is usually grass-fed beef – stay away from the grain-fed where possible – the grass-fed beef tastes the best.
- No salty or sugary sports drinks. I prefer things that are real, so that generally means water is the best option.
- I always say diet is critically important for your health and well-being. If you eat food full of nutrients and vitality such as garlic, chilli, fresh herbs and vegetables then you’re more likely to build up an immune resistance and give yourself the best chance of having a successful career.
- And lastly, if I am going to have a cheat meal, it won’t be from a place like McDonalds but if you make all your meals fresh and vibrant, your body will stop craving crap food.