Lunch Box Lessons
Every meal a young athlete eats is essential to fuelling their body, sporting performance and education. Lunch is often eaten on the go, between classes or training sessions and can be one of the trickiest to get right. It’s usually the last meal an athlete will eat before they head back to the gym for their after-school practices, meaning it’s essential to make sure young athletes are eating enough to maintain their energy levels and perform at their best.
Follow these suggestions below to ensure you’re packing the perfect lunch for top performance!
Step 1- Plan Ahead
When time is restricted, planning ahead is key. Take 10 minutes out over the weekend to decide on a recipe calendar for the week. Get your young athletes involved in this to make them more accountable for the foods they’re eating and ensure it’s choices they’ll enjoy.
Once you’ve decided on your lunch options, make sure everything’s prepped the night before. There’s nothing worse than running around the kitchen before school, throwing anything you can find into the school bags.
Step 2- Pick Your Protein
We all know how important protein is to every athlete. It’s the building blocks of our muscles and eating enough is critical to muscle growth and recovery. But how do we get enough when we need to grab a quick bite on the move? Grilled chicken or turkey breasts, tuna and eggs are great sources of protein that can easily be incorporated into sandwiches or other lunch box ideas. Choose your protein source and build your lunch around it.
Step 3- Choose The Carbohydrates
Now that you have your protein sorted, it’s time to think about the main bulk of the energy. Our body prefers to use glucose as an energy source, and we get this easily from carbohydrates. Keep it simple with bread for a sandwich, wrap, or pitta. Or if you want to change things up a little, bring along some pre-cooked rice, pasta or noodles. Add in that protein source and you've got the foundation of a perfect meal!
Step 4- Fill Up On Fruit & Veg
This is the easy part of the lunch that you can grab as you leave the house. Add apples, bananas, kiwis or any other fruit into the lunch boxes and you’re good to go. If you’ve got a bit more time, chop up some carrot or cucumber sticks for a great snack option. Alternatively, pack out your sandwiches or pasta dishes with salads and other veggies and you’ve got a sure-fire way to tick off your 5-a-day!
Step 5- Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is going to hugely impact endurance, accuracy and concentration, both in the classroom and on the pitch. Making sure young athletes stay hydrated throughout the day is incredibly important for their general health above all else and is especially important if they’ve had an early morning session. Get a water bottle, keep it topped up and sip it throughout the day.
Remember. Prevention is better than cure!
Step 6- Pack It Up
Once you’ve planned and prepped the lunches, the last step is packing. Invest in a small cool bag and some good lunch boxes to keep your food fresh and to stop it from getting squished in a school or sports bag. Trust us, it’s worth the investment!
So next time you're stuck for a nutritious lunch idea, remember these 6 simple steps!
For inspiration on lunch recipes, take a look at the YSN Kitchen App coming soon! Check out our social media pages for information on launch dates.
You can also check out the Recipe section of our blog to discover more healthy, tasty and simple dishes to help you reach your goals.