Leeds Rhinos compete in campus kitchen cook-off

Leeds Rhinos players were put through their paces in the kitchen at Leeds Beckett University when PhD student and Leeds Rugby nutritionist Debbie Smith set them a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ challenge.

Leeds Rhinos first team players, Jimmy Keinhorst, Liam Sutcliffe and Jordan Lilley, took part in the competition at Leeds Beckett’s Headingley Campus, where they were each given a different box of ingredients and challenged to create their own dish.

Debbie Smith, who set the challenge, is studying the dietary requirements of adolescent rugby players as part of her PhD, whilst delivering nutrition support to the Leeds Rhinos Academy and first team players, and to Yorkshire Carnegie. The idea behind the Ready Steady Cook challenge was to get the rugby players trying out new healthy convenience foods, provided by Leeds Rhinos sponsors, Gold Standard Nutrition, whilst learning to cook quick and appropriate meals for their training.

Debbie commented: “My PhD is partly funded by Leeds Rugby and, as part of my Leeds Beckett research, I have been providing applied nutrition support to the Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire Carnegie players, including creating menu plans for Yorkshire Carnegie with the help of Leeds Beckett masters students. 

“My support includes individual consultations, group education and cooking sessions, body composition analysis, and attracting new sponsors – such as Gold Standard Nutrition – which offer healthy forms of convenience foods such as frozen, steam-cooked chicken, which can be easily added to a meal.

“For the adolescent players in particular, it is important for them to build their muscle mass and have the right energy levels which, alongside their training, they can achieve through nutrition.”

The information sourced by Debbie, along with diaries kept by the players, feeds back into Leeds Rugby’s player development programmes and their own nutrition education sessions. 

The Ready Steady Cook competition tied into Gold Standard Nutrition’s 30 day challenge which the players have taken on this month. Debbie explained: “Gold Standard Nutrition offer a 30 day challenge where they provide a menu plan to follow using 30 days’ worth of their food – including meat, ‘pot o gold’ protein meals, and ‘pot o mash’ prepared vegetables. A daily plan based on an individual’s age, height, weight, personal nutrition and body composition goals and daily activity levels is put together. I worked with the team closely to develop these specifically for our players, creating different meal plans for the different training and rest days.”          

The winner of the Ready Steady Cook competition was Jimmy, who scored a perfect 10 out of 10 for his beef burgers and sweet potato mash. Jordan came in second with his chicken satay sauce with salad; and Liam finished third with a chicken and egg fried rice stir fry.

Jimmy, who graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2013 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Science, said: “The challenge was to try out the new products and see if we can come up with something tasty. It is part of our 30-day challenge which we are using to address certain goals: such as losing weight or gaining lean muscle. It is important for us to eat the right foods and at the right times of the day and week, with our training being at different intensities on different days, so there is a lot to consider in planning meals.”

Gold Standard Nutrition are offering a 10% discount on their products to Leeds Rhinos fans. To apply this, please use the code Rhinos10 when purchasing products on their website.