Andrew Porter diary: Meat, veg and intermittent fasting the order of the day
I find eating all meals within an eight-hour period is best for training and keeping weight
I’m still trying to find my fighting weight which has fluctuated. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Devin Toner has been cooking up a storm every day judging by his videos on his Instagram account. He’s the sourdough chief. He could open up a restaurant with the stuff that he’s making.
He’s put up a pizza recipe, cannelloni, all types of curries. It’s been fairly straightforward stuff but Dev makes it look top notch. If he was on Come Dine With Me, I’d say he’d be getting the high score.
I try to challenge myself but I don’t think I have the patience for it really. I just want the food. I don’t want something that’s going to take a couple of hours to make. Dev probably has a bit more experience too.
This is only my third season as a professional and I’m still trying to find my fighting weight. I’ve tried to stay at 120kg over the last year. Before that, in my first year of under-20s, I was 113kg, but in my second year I rocketed up to 128kg.
I was so set on being the biggest on the pitch that I ate anything that came around. I remember during the Junior World Cup in Manchester we went out to one of those all-you-can-eat steak places. They had to roll me home. I can’t help myself sometimes.
I’ve learned since. That was too much bulk. Senior rugby is a huge step up and a faster game. You have to be strong and mobile.
Busy and active
In lockdown I’m trying to eat normally because I’m also training as much as I usually would. It keeps me as busy and as active as possible. I got a bike off one of my cousin’s friends in Dublin2bikes on loan and I’m also cycling more than ever.
I have one of those whoop bands. It tracks all your activity and your calories, and I gauge how much I eat off that. I’d say on average I’m on 3,500 calories a day, or maybe less. If I went over that, I’d see the pounds slip back on.
Although I’m living with my dad and my two sisters, I don’t eat breakfast, lunch and dinner – I have meals ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, ‘4’. I have my own set times outside family dinners and I do all my own cooking.
I do what’s called intermittent fasting. I wouldn’t eat until about midday and then I’d stop eating at about 8pm. Cian Healy introduced me to it. I did something like it in school and it’s handy for me. Training with Leinster I didn’t have to worry about getting up and preparing food. All I had to do was get a coffee into me, get out the door and get in to training.
The day doesn’t start without a coffee. I have one of the AeroPress machines at home and I get a lot of my coffee delivered from 3fe. In the mornings I usually have it black. Later, if I was having it white, it would be with oat milk.
Then I do my weights and my running, and then it’s eating time – usually a few eggs and maybe a steak. Keep it simple.
Although it took a few weeks of adjustment, and a few pangs, it doesn’t leave me that hungry. It can be tough fitting all your food into an eight hour window. It could be three meals, it could be six! I’d eat little and often.
When you’re in camp you’re virtually spoon fed, so to speak! I prefer sourcing and making my own food. I eat a lot of meat and vegetables, and whole, natural, unprocessed foods, like rice, potatoes and pasta. I’ll also put together a spaghetti Bolognese if I’m in the mood.
I’m fairly methodical about weighing things on the scales, and making sure there’s a balance. I might make batches of food so that I can have it later that day and/or the next day.
Meal ‘2’ might be beef and rice, and maybe some yoghurt. In the evening I might have the same, or salmon, or whatever is in the fridge.
On Wednesday, for example, I cooked up two big packs of beef with vegetables and had it with some rice. That could do me for the day because I can eat the same thing day in, day out almost. Variety isn’t that important for me.
I do a lot of my shopping in Aldi, which is handy on the pocket given the amount of food I have to buy. I like my steaks and my lean ground beef. A rib-eye or a fillet would be my favourite. I slap it on the barbecue and ready to go.
Medium for my rib eye, and blue for my fillet! Less than rare. Sometimes I allow myself a glass of rouge, especially with a good steak. I’m a Malbec man. You can’t have ‘this’ without ‘that’!
I guess I’m a little weird about my food. I’m not picky either, as you can probably tell. I wouldn’t be big into Chinese takeaways or anything like that. If I was to have a cheat meal it would be a burger. The list is endless. I got one of the BuJo build your own burgers a while ago. Bunsen Burgers are good too, or Box Burgers in Bray.
I’d eat a lot of salmon, and a few prawns, if the mood takes me, and a good bit of chicken. My father works beside a wholesale butchers and when I was in school he’d come home with two big 50 packs of chicken fillets. They strictly supplied businesses and myself. They wouldn’t last that long!
In this lockdown weather almost everything is cooked on the Kamado Joe. It takes a little more time, but almost everything tastes better on the barbecue, and you can cook anything on them, even fairy cakes if you wanted, I’d say.
They’re not cheap, so I’m trying to get as much bang for my buck as I can. You can cook pizzas on them and I almost prefer a pizza when it’s homemade, because I throw as much meat on it as I like!
Protein is essential for a professional athlete, and maintaining your muscle and your performance. In Leinster we’d weigh ourselves every day, but I don’t have a scales at home. Hopefully I’ve dropped a little weight with the training I’ve been doing.
But I’m feeling stronger with all the training, and looking after my nutrition, my sleep and recovery. I’m trying to get a few swims in the Irish Sea as well, in Killiney, which is within my 5k. It’s been Baltic, but hopefully that’s been worth the pain.