Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard: Take a Flirt on the Fran Side

He’s the buy you’d rather be, but what habits did he put in place to make it?

Photography by Simon Howard

He’s that guy you’d ‘rather be.’ 

Every box is ticked, ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ perfectly punctuated. Scrum-half Francois Hougaard made his pro debut at just 19 years of age. Fifteen years on, he remains fit, unphased, and built for the billboards.

We can’t teach you how to play international rugby, but we have unveiled his habitual lifestyle. Fran makes us want to drop the donuts, bin the bagels, and make our macros matter…

The Habits that Built Hougaard

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my rugby career,” Fran tells us as we sit down for a post-shoot Q&A.

“Aside from the inevitable injuries and not having made two of the World Cups, I’ve not suffered any low points to speak of,” he continues. “The mental side of missing out is pretty hard to deal with, but when you’re back on the pitch, you can put it all behind you. It’s a part of any sport that you just have to accept.

“Repping my country, playing for South Africa has to be my biggest achievement. Scoring the tri of the year against the All Blacks in 2014 was probably my proudest moment.”

Francois represented South Africa at the 2016 Olympics before relocating to the UK to play for clubs Warriors, Wasps, and currently, Saracens. Having enjoyed a non-stop rally, he reveals there is no room for ‘normality’ in the fuel department.

“I don’t really know what it’s like to eat ‘normal’ as I’ve always been so strict on my lifestyle,” says Fran. “I don’t refer to what I eat as a ‘diet’, because a diet is something you do for a certain period, then stop. For me, food is performance-based. Everything you put in your body has a knock-on effect. I need to be loaded with the best possible fuel. I make sure I’m always ready to perform.”

Francois alternates between intermittent fasting and eating every three hours.

“When I’m intermittent fasting, I have my last meal at 8-9 pm, then fast for 16 hours,” he says. “When I start eating again, I double up on carbs throughout the day with each meal. When I eat every three hours, my meals are macro-based.”

Francois Hougaard

“Pre-season is more about maintenance. I eat more carbs closer to the game to build up my fitness. Carb-heavy meals are needed during the season for high-level maintenance.”

Prepped to avoid the stereotypical retirement slump, Fran has already taken entrepreneurial steps to advance his future prospects.

“I should have about two years left to play; I’ve no plans to leave the pitch just yet,” he says. “That said, I’ve got a signage shop in America called ‘Signarama’, and I’m in the process of launching a wellness brand called ‘NINE Wellness’. I have a few investments here and there, but I don’t want to be all over the place. 

The most exciting project for me is the wellness brand. It’s designed for people who love looking after what they put in their bodies.

“I’ve made the mental switch in preparation for the next stage of my life, so I’m looking forward to it because I’ve already taken care of that transition. It will be a tough challenge to have to say goodbye to rugby, though, eventually.”

Fancy Following Francois’ Eating Regime?

Our sample maintenance meal planner will help you stay consistently ready for anything.

Note: The meal plan is based on a male weighing 75kgs wanting to maintain their body weight. Adjust macros accordingly.



3 eggs (18g protein, 15g fats)

1/2 avocado (1.5g protein, 15g fats)



1 slice whole grain bread (10g carbs, 3g protein, 1g fats) 2 tbsp peanut butter (7g protein, 16g fats)



1 cup cooked brown rice (45g carbs, 5g protein, 2g fats) 4 oz grilled chicken breast (26g protein, 2g fats)

1/2 cup cooked broccoli (2g protein, 1g fats)



1 small apple (15g carbs)

2 hard-boiled eggs (12g protein, 10g fats)



6 oz grilled salmon (30g protein, 18g fats)

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (10g protein, 1.5g fats) 1 cup steamed asparagus (3g protein, 1g fats)


Carbohydrates: 84g | Fats: 80.5g | Protein: 116g

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