A ‘balanced’ meal for an athlete is hugely important for both training and competition, so it’s a good idea to know what types of things you can cook that will give you what’s required.
Below you’ll find 11 excellent ideas for balanced lunches.
You can mix and match different combinations of carbs, proteins, vegetables and fats to increase your variety of balanced meal options at breakfast, lunch and dinner or give something new a try. Note that portion size and ratios of each group will vary depending on body size, goals and activity level.
1. Baked frittata with sweet potato
2. Sandwiches on grain bread + lean meat + salad + avocado – mix and match for endless combinations
3. Wrap + lean meat or cheese + salad or leftover cooked veges (who says you cant put broccoli in a wrap)
4. Garden salad + sweet potato + cold cuts of meat or grilled chicken + drizzle olive oil
5. Pasta salads filled mostly with vegetables + chicken or tuna (avoid versions with creamy dressings)
6. Sushi with grilled chicken, or salmon + some seaweed salad or edamame on the side
7. Garden salad + roast veges + mixed lentils or legumes + chopped almonds
8. Brown rice, cous cous or quinoa salad + fresh or roast veges + lean meat eaten cold
9. Baked potato + baked beans or legumes + salad + avocado
10. Vegetable soup + ham and cheese toastie
11. Wholegrain toast + hommus + avocado + cherry tomato and fetta + dukka sprinkle
Balanced meals provide athletes with carbohydrates for energy to help prepare and recover from training, protein to help repair and replenish muscle damage, fats for long term energy and joint lubrication and vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and well.
Some athletes can get stuck eating the same food combination because they know it’s good and balanced, but then they get bored of their food and lack variety in their diet.
So if you find yourself wondering what else you can eat, build your meals by including a food from each of these four key groups:
- lean protein +
- high fibre carbohydrates +
- nutrients/vegetables +
- small amounts of fats