Cooking up success
FOR Brad Richards, success in his chosen sport doesn't start on the field, but in the kitchen.
The Hervey Bay Bombers player last year battled weight problems and struggled with form and confidence.
Fast forward to now and Richards has turned his life around after shedding the kilos and winning the Stedman Medal on Sunday.
The first Bombers player to win the AFL Wide Bay's best and fairest award since 2004 also claimed the coaches' player of the year award.
Now a lean 84kg, Richards' explosiveness in clearance situations and sparkling skills makes him the most dangerous player in this Saturday's grand final as he looks to carve up Across The Waves.
Talent, commitment and hard work have all contributed to Richards' stunning success this season.
But when asked to identify the secret to his turnaround, the 25-year-old midfielder said a new diet was the key.
"It's paramount," he said.
"I knew I needed to step it up if I wanted to achieve my goals and I started to focus on where it begins and that's the diet."
Following a healthy, balanced diet tailored to his needs has helped Richards trim 20kg in five months.
Richards said changing his eating habits was tough at first but forming a nutritional philosophy has helped him reinvent his game.
"If you think of your body like a vehicle, or a tool you use, you need to give it the right preparation and the right recovery," he said.
"You need to fix it up with the right fuel.
"I reckon your diet is 65% of your performance, and then another 5-10% is your sleep and recovery and the rest is your training you do along the way."
An athletic type growing up, Richards admitted missing out on the AFL draft camp when he was 17 was one of the reasons he dropped the ball.
"I took it in a bad way and took a back seat and it took a toll on my health," he said.
"I hadn't dealt with not making the professional football league and where I wanted to go with that."
Having not played since July because of ligament damage in his right foot, Richards is racing the clock to be fit for the Bombers' grand final on Saturday.
However, he said there was no chance he would miss the match.
"That was the goal I had, with a big circle around it," he said.
"I don't want to be on the sidelines or using excuses for not being able to make an effort and contribute.
"I want to win a premiership with the team and play a pivotal role in the match."
APPETITE FOR EXCELLENCE
Brad's daily diet plan
Breakfast: Muesli or oatmeal with light milk.
Morning tea: Protein shake of whey protein and piece of fruit.
Lunch: Tuna, salmon or chicken with green vegetables or salad with a side of brown rice.
Dinner: Fish or chicken two nights a week, beef, kangaroo and a vegetarian meal one night a week. All meals served with salad and vegetables.
Also: If I need a snack throughout the day I normally eat about 25 raw almonds. Drink between three to five litres of water and also green tea with no sugar and milk.
Foods to avoid
Potatoes: Too many starch-based carbs can be really hard to burn. Same goes for carrots. Best to stick with high-fibre vegetables like broccoli and round beans.
Sugar-based foods: Pointless eating at night as you have no chance to burn the energy while sleeping and it just turns into fat.
No carbs after 3pm: Not enough time to burn it off so it will be converted into fat.
Set realistic diet goals, cater specifically to your situation and weight goal.
Regular exercise is important with every diet.
Reward yourself with a "junk meal" before 3pm on a heavy training day once a week. It's better to reward yourself with a junk meal than a junk day.
Brad's favourite recipe
Kangaroo Stir Fry
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup snow peas
1 cup broccoli
1 cup bok choy
1 cup green capsicum
1 cup bean sprouts
1 chopped zucchini
250g kangaroo fillet, diced
2 teaspoons miso of beef/chicken stock (seasoning)
Whisk together soy sauce, fish sauce, seasoning sauce, ginger and garlic.
Heat olive oil in hot pan or wok on medium heat for two minutes.
Place in kangaroo and cook until medium rare.
Once meat is cooked throw in vegetables and pour in the contents of sauce.
Let simmer for five minutes until you're happy that all contents have cooked and is ready to serve.