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‘Think about the habits that allow you to feel energised and feel at your best’

May 14th, 2024 9:00 AM

By Kieran McCarthy

Daniel Davey was a performance nutrionist with Leinster Rugby for almost a decade.

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A JUNIOR hurler in Carbery or a West Cork Olympian competing on the world stage can apply the same principles of performance nutrition – that’s the message from Daniel Davey, once hailed as the secret weapon to Dublin football and Leinster rugby's success.

The Sligo man, the founder of, is a brand ambassador for Glenilen Farm in Drimoleague, and he will hold a special event at the farm on Thursday evening, May 16th (7pm). It’s a chance to listen to and learn from one of the top performance nutritionists in the country.

Davey is keen to stress that a club GAA player or an elite sportsperson can work off a similar plan, and consistency in the process holds the key to success then.

‘That’s what I am trying to communicate to the world – you can apply exactly the same principles,’ Davey tells the Star Sport Podcast.

‘Club football, for example, is at a very high level, and a lot are almost at inter-county level, and it’s exactly the same practices. I use very simple analogies – just think about all the habits that allow you to feel energised and feel at your best. What performance is about is putting as many of those habits together as possible. When you drink, it’s how much fluid you consume and when you consume it. The same with food, what food sits really well with you? It’s putting that in a system and process that you apply repeatedly over the course of time.

‘People tend to get bored, but at the elite level there's an acceptance that it’s about doing these things consistently that will allow you to perform at your best, so it’s not getting bored with the basics that are so important.’

He added: ‘Think about a Gaelic footballer and a kick pass – that kick pass needs to be repeated in training regularly for it to be at a high level. But we don’t think about our food like that, we don’t think about it being practiced.’

When an athlete – no matter the level – consumes food is important too, with Davey explaining the preparation starts days beforehand, not on the day of a match.

‘It (when you eat) can mean that you perform at your best or it can mean that you completely hit the wall. It can define the outcome of a competition, match or a training session,’ he says.

‘I get a lot of questions about what do you eat pre-competition or what’s the pre-match meal, but the preparation starts days beforehand. If you haven’t eaten really well in the days leading up to your competition, you simply won’t have enough energy to perform in that session or that competition at your absolute best.

‘Performance nutrition is defined by the volume of food that you eat and when you eat it. People, athletes, we all eat the same types of foods but it’s what you eat, when you eat it and how much – that becomes very important if you want to perform at your best.

‘A very simple guideline is, if it’s a competition you are eating your last main meal two to four hours beforehand, if it’s training it’s generally two or three hours before your session. You have phases of preparation then, you have your two key phase of recovery – immediate recovery after your training or competition, and that’s within the hour, and then within three hours you need to make sure you are eating again, replacing the energy, replacing the fluids, getting protein and carbohydrate on board to start the recovery and adaptation processes.’

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