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By Team ON 4 years ago 10601 Views No comments

Saracens Nutritionist George Morgan runs through the three main elements required gain bulk before hitting the pitch. You can follow George on Twitter: @morgangmr.

I focus all pre-season guides around three simple pillars: protein intake, fuelling sessions, and pre-bed nutrition. Let’s start with addressing the importance of protein intake.

Proteins are long chains of amino acids bonded together into structures that relate to the proteins functions within the body. Amino acids are seen as the building blocks of protein and a lack of these being supplied to the muscle from the extra cellular amino acid pool is one of the limiting factors of muscle growth. Micro tears occur in the muscle fibres as a result of resistance training. Available amino acids are used to create new muscle tissue and create larger, stronger fibres.

An optimal protein intake should be split evenly throughout the day with all meal and snacks containing a clear protein-rich component. Each protein hit should be 0.3 - 0.4g per kg and ideally every 3-4 hours with a larger protein snack before bed with an extra protein portion 30 minutes after finishing training.

Skewed versus regular protein intake

The rationale behind this is muscle breakdown and build-up is a constant process which can be decreased or increased by certain stimuli such as feeding and exercise. To maximize protein growth the muscles should be fed with protein after key times such as post weight training, and at regular intervals throughout the day. Unlike carbohydrates the body cannot store vast amounts of protein for later use so having large infrequent (“a skewed”) protein intake is less likely to be as effective as the same net protein intake split into equal protein feeds. A typical skewed intake would be little of no protein at breakfast or lunch, low protein snacks, and a large protein hit before bed. Below is an example of a skewed protein intake versus a regular protein intake diet.





Cereal with milk

Porridge with milk

4 boiled eggs


Fruit and seed bar

Berries, almonds and Greek yoghurt


Meat sandwich

Chicken skewers with salad and quinoa


Banana and yoghurt

40g of dried, cured meat

Post gym

Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Gold Standard Whey shake

Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Gold Standard Whey shake


2 chicken breasts with potato and milk

1 chicken breast with rice and greens

Pre bed


Gold Standard 100% Casein shake and milk

If you compare the two daily protein intake you see that the skewed intake focuses on large hits in the evening but nothing before bed. This means that protein synthesis will only be maximally stimulated in the evening and not continually throughout the day with every protein feed, which can mean less muscle growth in the long term. The optimal protein intake should be more regularly-spaced protein hits throughout the day in smaller portions.

Which protein source is best?

I advise the players that it is important to consume complete proteins (all the essential amino acids) with meals. Examples of these are milk, meat, chicken, fish, eggs, quinoa and soy. The team use Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey as it is absorbed quickly post training. Proteins rich in casein are advisable before bed as they are broken down more slowly overnight; this keeps up the steady supply of amino acids to support muscle growth and repair during sleeps.

Go to Saracens/ON blog for more from Saracens Nutritionist George Morgan:

You can follow George on Twitter: @morgangmr.