Food courts often come with an overwhelming array of food choices that includes an abundance of less nutritious options.
Due to the busy schedules and travel involved in the lives of many athletes, it is important to be aware of how to choose nutritious meals when away from home.
If you are eating to fuel or recover from training or competition, putting extra effort into finding the most appropriate meal to align with your goals will benefit your ongoing performance and training adaptations.
Below are some other tips for athletes eating at food courts:
- Ensure most of your meal comes from plants e.g. fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.
- Choose a lean protein option to aid muscle growth and recovery e.g. chicken, meat, fish, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, milk, legumes.
- Avoid deep fried foods as they are generally nutrient-poor and energy-dense.
- Avoid attending food courts feeling ravenous, as this leaves you vulnerable to choosing less nutritious options and/or over-eating. Carry nutritious snacks with you at all times (e.g. in your bag or car) to help to mitigate this e.g. nuts, fruit or muesli bars.
- Walk around the whole food court first to inspect all potential options so that you can make an informed decision regarding the best meal option.
- Choose salad and water or milk with your meal as opposed to hot chips and a soft drink.
- Ask for sauces on the side of meals so that you are in control of how much of have.
8 meal ideas for athletes in the food court
Some nutritious foodcourt examples are below. Note that the portion sizes recommended of each meal will vary based on individual goals and training demands.
Chicken teriyaki and salad on wheat bread/wrap without sauce from Subway. Optional to add herbs & spices e.g. pepper
Tuna and avocado roll with brown rice, bowl of edamame and a seaweed salad
3. Thai food
Basil seafood/chicken/beef stir-fry with plain white or brown rice
4. Mexican food
Chicken/beef burrito bowl with guacamole, vegetables, rice and beans without sour cream from Guzman Y Gomez or Zambrero
5. Greek food
Build a Spartan box containing chicken/pork/lamb/beef/fish and choosing the rice and salad options as the sides from Zeus Street Greek
6. Burger shop
Sweet Chilli Chicken burger with mayonnaise on the side or a Superpower Salad from Grill’d, without chips and a drink unless it is water
7. Indian food
Lentil dahl or beef/chicken curry with basmati rice or naan bread
8. Chicken shop
Pulled Chicken Bowl from Oporto or Superfuel Salad with Grilled Chicken from Nando’s, without chips and a drink unless it is water