As the weeks gets busier and busier, we are having to search for time to fit in a workout. Frequently, this means sacrificing your lunch break and heading to the gym instead. Whilst hitting the gym is important, it doesn’t mean you should skip eating your lunch! Regardless of time constraints, eating a proper, nutritious lunch, should always remain a priority.
So, what can you grab on the go without having to head for a supermarket meal deal? And what will help you recover sufficiently from your workout?
It’s simple, prepare your meal in advance. Set aside 10 minutes each morning or get your lunch ready the night before. This way you don’t need to compromise on the nutrients you give your body. When it comes to preparing meals, many people believe this to take lots of time and only be for those avid gym goers who want to make huge gains. But this is far from the truth. Meal prepping is for anyone short of time who wants to make sure they are getting the nutritious post-workout meal their body needs and deserves.
Macro and Micronutrients
When making your post-workout lunch, it is important to remember the major food groups. Incorporate carbohydrates, protein, ‘healthy’ fats, fibre, and veg into your meal. And hydrate! Restore those water levels, with the best form of hydration, water! You want to include a good source of complex carbohydrates (they are not bad for you!) to give you some slow releasing energy throughout the afternoon, protein to help repair and build your muscles, and a small amount of healthy, polyunsaturated fats.
One of the simplest, yet most nutritionally balanced lunch options, is the good old sandwich. It has everything you need, is filling, and can taste amazing. A sandwich doesn’t have to be viewed as a cheating option for lunch, as a homemade sarnie is far from it. Start with choosing the right bread for you. Rather than opting for the traditional sliced loaf, which doesn’t provide you with that extra bit of much-needed fibre, choose a fresh granary, seeded, or wholemeal loaf. Choosing a whole loaf that rather than a pre-sliced one, means it’s fresher and has fewer nasty additives. Too many of us don’t include enough fibre in our diets, therefore a granary or wholemeal loaf will give us that extra dose we need. If you are wanting to watch the calories slightly, a wholemeal wrap, bagel thin, or rye crackers will do the perfect trick.
So, enough about the base of the sandwich, what could you put inside? This is where you can get creative. Almost anything tastes good in a sandwich, but what tastes beautiful and will help you kick start the cycle of recovery? Here are a few options for you to try:
Egg, avocado, and spinach
- Boil 2 medium eggs for 7 minutes, peel and mush using a fork
- Spread one side of your chosen bread with a thin layer of avocado. This will give your sandwich some extra moisture in the form of healthy fats. Then top with as much spinach or mixed lettuce as you desire.
- Spread your mushed egg on the other side of the bread, close, and slice in half.
- Put it in foil, or a Tupperware box, and enjoy at lunchtime.
Chicken or smoked salmon with avocado
- Use any leftover roast chicken from the weekend or cook some chicken in advance as your main protein source. You can use smoked salmon as an alternative for those essential omega-3 fatty acids. (healthy fats!)
- Again, spread your chosen bread with a thin layer of avocado (1/4 of an avocado), then top with as much spinach or mixed lettuce as you desire.
Mackerel pate and mixed leaves
- Mix some mackerel with a spoonful of soft cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl (make enough for a few portions to last you into the week).
Roasted red pepper, hummus, and rocket
- In advance, cut up some red pepper and put it in the oven for roughly half an hour at 200 degrees.
- When you go to make your sandwich, add some of the pre-roasted pepper, a layer of hummus (plenty of healthy goodness, and a plant-based protein option) and rocket.
These fillings are all very versatile and don’t have to be confined to a sandwich. A true time saving food, and a massive help to those wanting to avoid washing up, is microwavable rice. It isn’t something we should be ashamed to say we use, and again, it isn’t cheating, but instead we should be thankful for the time it saves us. All you need to do is whizz it in the microwave for 2 minutes and you have an extremely tasty, yet incredibly easy to make, base for your lunch. Again, to ensure you are getting plenty of fibre in your diet, choose wholegrain, wild rice, or a quinoa blend option, or even couscous. Wholegrain rice mixed with other grains provides you with plenty of post workout goodness. Be careful not to reheat the rice once it has cooled as this can lead to sickness. Rice can also be substituted for pasta to make a tasty pasta salad.
Now, that alone might not be enough to fill you up, especially after a tough session in the gym, so here are some healthy ideas you can have for a little extra fuel.
- Chopped up raw vegetables, e.g. carrots, pepper, radish.
- Fruit of your choice, e.g. apple, strawberries, grapes, banana, pear.
- Handful of mixed nuts
- Rice crackers
- Homemade energy ball
- Chocolate milk
So, there are no excuses for heading to the supermarket for a meal deal after your lunchtime work out. Be organised, prepare in advance, and you’ll get all the tasty goodness you need to kick start your recovery.