The benefits of protein for health and performance are well established. Muscle protein synthesis, lean body mass, a satiating macronutrient. The list goes on. You may associate the term ‘protein’ with a shake full of powder, but protein is everywhere. Getting the practical side can be tricky but, like anything, it’s easy once you know how!
Develop a food first philosophy. Protein is found in abundance in:
- Meat: Chicken, Pork, Beef, Lamb, Duck
- Beans and Pulses: Lentils, Beans (Kidney, Edamame, Cannelini, Haricot), Chickpeas
- Dairy: Milk, Yogurt, Cheese (Cottage, Cheddar, Halloumi)
- Dietary Requirement Products: Soy products, Quorn, Lactose-free milk
- Supplements: Protein powder/drinks/bars
If you’re eating on the go, whether travelling to competitions or just stopping at a shop, finding a filling, healthier option can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Think of the above options and think of ones you would prefer.
When travelling, it’s a good idea to check if the venue has a café or restaurant and find out what their food choices are. Checking the local area (e.g. Google Maps) for supermarkets before travelling is a good way of understanding where you can go, and you can even go as far as checking what foods supermarkets and smaller ‘express’ shops have by simply searching for their website. This should have some nutritional information of the foods, too.
Supermarkets and their smaller versions make it easier than ever to grab a meal on the go. Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco, Boots, Marks and Spencers…all have ‘meal deal’ offers ranging from £3.00-£5.00. There will likely be a large selection of foods. You can often choose from a main (e.g. sandwich, wrap, salad), a snack (fruit, yogurt, crisps, chocolate), and a drink (water, fruit juice/smoothie, fizzy drinks).
When choosing a meal from these sections, think about what you need to fuel your training or competition. If you need more carbohydrate before, a sandwich or wrap such as salmon and cucumber works for carbohydrate and protein. If you need something lighter, a chicken salad might do. The snack is often a small trick into adding extra calories than you think.
Choosing something like a fruit box is a great way to get healthy micronutrients in your diet, rather than a sugary, fatty chocolate bar e.g. swap a Mars bar for a berry mix and get a great hit of vitamin C!
If you need some healthy fats, you could opt for nuts, or beans and houmous might provide a vegetarian protein snack. For the drink, you could wash it down with water, or get a small smoothie or coconut water if you need a quick dose of carbohydrate. An example might be:
Main – Chicken salad wrap: 350 calories, 15 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate
Snack – Fruit medley snack pot: 60 calories, 1 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate
Drink: Still / Sparkling water (500 ml)
These values are just an example, and not taken from any official data, but you can see the theme. As always, match your nutrition to your needs.
You can find many protein sources away from the ‘meal deal’ areas, so shop around! Below is a quick of example protein sources ‘on the go’ available to us in supermarkets in the snack aisles or elsewhere, with the estimated protein content and cost.
‘Pro On the Go’ from Liam Oliver (Sports Sci Guy). Accurate as of September 2017.