Vitalstrength sat down with Brumbies captain Ben Mowen to hear his top diet and nutrition tips for rugby union players.
Wallabies and ACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen is now regarded as one of Australia’s premier captains. Having worked hard in the gym since moving to Canberra, Mowen has physically bulked up to become a force at the breakdown. There are few players who hit as many rucks as the UC Brumbies captain, a testament to his big engine and dedication to conditioning.
Find out what keeps him fuelled week on week.
Vitalstrength: What are your current body composition goals and ideal weight during the season?
Ben Mowen: Currently I’m working on eating very clean in season. My playing weight is between 108 and 110kg and I have found I perform most efficiently if my skin folds are between 45-50.
This year I have avoided eating any additional sugar in my diet as I would like to move that skin fold to between 35-40 but maintain my weight. I have always found the leaner I can carry myself the better I recover and as a leader of a team you must be playing 80mins each week so having the ability to back up is very important.
Ben Mowen: As I’m focusing on strength and staying lean I like to use Vitalstrength WPI+ post sessions to ensure I’m getting enough protein, plus Vitalstrength BCAA powder. Vitalstrength WPI+ is high in protein but has minimal carbs and fat.
Before training in the gym I will often use Vitalstrength 16:00 Nitroxl to help boost energy and focus.
Vitalstrength: What is your standard diet on a non-game day?
Ben Mowen: My day to day diet usually consists of:
Breakfast – 4 poached eggs on toast and one cup of juice.
Post gym – An apple and Vitalstrength WPI+ protein shake.
Lunch – Often two grilled chicken wraps with avo, cheese and salad.
Afternoon tea (post training) – A Vitalstrength WPI+ shake, banana and a muesli bar.
Dinner – I would typically have a meat based meal with rice or pasta.
Dessert – A low sugar yoghurt and muesli.
Vitalstrength: How does your diet differ on game day?
Ben Mowen: The only additional food on a game day would be a plate of pancakes mid afternoon with syrup and bananas for extra energy.
Vitalstrength: What is your normal weekly schedule in the gym, during the season?
Ben Mowen: In season in the gym I would do 3 sessions a week. 2 main lifts with a core exercise for upper or lower body followed by 3 supplementary exercises and core. The third is a speed power session involving jumps and throws.
Vitalstrength: Do you have any traditions/superstitions on game day?
Ben Mowen: I keep game day very consistent. I have done the same thing for the last 4 years. The most important part of my routine is a 2hr period for a nap. At times I can over think the night before and not have the best sleep so having 2hrs to catch up and settle the nerves is very important.
“I have played the same 4 songs on the walk to the stadium for many years now. Hells bells ACDC, Back in Black ACDC, Thunderstruck ACDC, and Fort Minor’s Remember the name.”
Vitalstrength: How strict are you about about your diet and nutrition?
Ben Mowen: I know that there are few things that can separate athletes who are professional now days. Everyone trains hard etc. But nutrition is still the area that can make the biggest difference. Doing good things consistently over long periods of time can massively give you advantages to perform over more naturally gifted athletes who aren’t willing to make the same commitment.
Vitalstrength: What’s your favourite cheat meal?
Ben Mowen: Hot chips and calamari at the beach is always a fav of mine and I allow myself that when on family holidays at Xmas on the sunshine coast.
Vitalstrength: Has your approach to nutrition changed as your career has progressed?
“As my career has gone on I understand now just how big a difference good nutrition can make. I’m far more disciplined now than I have ever been.”
Vitalstrength: What advice would you give to an up and coming player in regards to nutrition?
Ben Mowen: The best advice I could give a young athlete is that if you want to separate yourself from the pack take your nutrition seriously from early on and doing the right things over a long time can be the difference between you and the next athlete.
Vitalstrength: Finally, who is the biggest “foodie” in the Brumbies team?
Ben Mowen: The biggest foodie in the team would be either Steve Moore or Scott Fardy. They both enjoy good quality food and have the pallet for it. I was blessed with bland taste buds so find it hard to distinguish top food from the rest but I guess that makes me easy to please as long as it is healthy and I’m full, I’m happy.