Sports Nutrition Interview Series: Andy Ellis - All Blacks & Canterbury Crusaders
Andy Ellis has been playing rugby in both New Zealand and Japan and was part of the starting All Blacks side to take on Samoa with a historial win in Apia last week. Andy was also the last man to touch the ball in the All Blacks' World Cup final win at Eden Park in 2011!
I caught up with this talented ultra fit halfback before he flew out to Samoa to find out what foods keep him going...
1. Where you currently live?
Christchurch but in the New Zealand summer I’ll return to Japan with my family to play rugby.
Image from here.
2. Tell us a little about your sport and the weekly training that’s involved?
Training for the All Blacks and Crusaders is pretty similar, normally something like:
Mondays – recovery. Often lower body weights or a few games like frisbee, just something fun to keep energy levels up. If any of the guys are sore or carrying injuries they might jump on a spin bike or head to the pool.
Tuesday – is a big training day! In the morning, we’ll have a 2-2.5 hour training session that’s really physical. In the afternoon it will be a skill based training as well as weights (full body weights or upper body).
Wednesday – day off
Thursday – In the morning, we’ll have a two hour training which will often be preceded by a really short, high-intensity power training session. In the afternoon, it will either be a massage or pool session.
Friday- Captain’s Run which lasts for 20-25 minutes. It is a practical run-through of whatever the captain wants to work on.
Saturday/Sunday - Preparation for game day depending on what day we’re playing.
I find that food and nutrition is so important, especially on those double training days. I try to eat a really good breakfast and lunch and then have a 20-30 minute nap after lunch before the afternoon training to help support recovery and good energy levels for the afternoon session.
Image above from here.
3. What’s your favourite pre-training or pre-match meal?
Normally at home, I have breakfast around 7/7.30am which is a shake as it’s an easy way to get a lot of food and nutrients in. I normally make the shake with ½ cup oats, protein, banana, blueberries, spinach and milk. I also have a men’s multi-vitamin.
If I’m on tour, I’ll have a similar shake as above if they have the facilities and equipment to make one. Otherwise, I’ll have wholegrain toast with 3-4 eggs along with some salmon and avocado. I’ll also have some fruit if I feel like something else.
Before training, we have a primer drink that’s prepared by our nutritionist and contains carbohydrates, some amino acids, caffeine and creatine.
4. It’s great to know what our top athletes eat! Run us through a typical training day and what you would eat?
Breakfast – is a shake made with heaps of fruit, protein, greens and milk or toast with eggs, salmon and avocado.
Lunch - often when I’m home, I’ll go out for Japanese and have 4-5 pieces of salmon sashimi to start followed by Chicken Donburi or Teriyaki Chicken with rice followed by a coffee.
I often snack of fresh fruit as it’s a healthy option.
Dinner is often fish with vegetables or rice or kumara. I love fish so we eat it about twice per week at home. We often have salmon once per week and another kind of fish once per week.
Chicken & Egg Donburi image from taste.com.au
5. What’s your go-to recovery snack or meal after a game?
A protein shake made with water which is provided by our nutritionist. Everyone in the team is different so some of the guys make it up with milk, whereas water works for me. It also depends on where your body weight or anthropometric readings are at. We get weighed regularly to check where we’re at.
6. Do you have a stand-out cook in the team?
Israel Dagg’s wife Daisy is always cooking him amazing meals and testing recipes for The Rugby Pantry!
7. If we peered into your fridge and pantry what would we find?
Fish! Also couscous, beetroot, Uncle Ben’s rice & quinoa mixes, kumara.
You get to know what foods work for your body. I know rice and kumara work for me but if I eat a lot of spuds, I tend to put on weight. Whereas some of the other guys can eat spuds but not rice. Everyone is different so you need to work out what foods work for you. Some weeks, I could enjoy dessert every night after dinner, but other weeks I need to be more careful with what I eat depending on where I’m at.
8. What’s your favourite meal of all time?
I love fish but I also love apricot chicken cooked in the crock pot.
9. Do you have a local café that you would recommend to other athletes?
Pure Café – a local café in Christchurch that focuses on organic, high-protein healthy food. They pride themselves on providing healthy options for athletes. They have really good coffee too.
10. Do you have any advice for staying hydrated whilst travelling to games or tournaments overseas?
We use Flyhidrate during flights. I drink one on take-off, one mid-flight and one on landing to stay hydrated. Just making sure you have a hydration plan helps you to stick to it and ensure you are drinking enough.
11. Do you have any tips for budding young athletes wanting to ward off illness, cold or flu whilst travelling and tackling a gruelling sporting schedule?
Most of the guys use a Men’s multi –vitamin supplement. We’re also encouraged to get outside when we get to a new time zone and not to wear sunglasses for the first few days so our bodies get into a new rhythm.
Thanks so much Andy. It's great to see such a love of fish and seafood! Interestingly Andy said he felt super healthy living in Japan because they eat so much fish and rice and are also proud vegetable growers who take great delight in their produce.
I wish you well for the rest of the season!