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ANATOMY OF A BALANCED LUNCH

12 September 2022 Jenna Amos

For many, September means back to routine and busy days, and the need for an updated midday refuel plan.

 

Whether you’re in the final weeks of training for a fall event or keeping business as usual at the gym, a well balanced lunch can set you up for success and avoid the dreaded late afternoon energy slump.

Check out this formula to a balanced, satisfying lunch plan and let us know if it changes up your week:

  • Lean Protein- Protein helps replenish tired muscles, keeps you full, and prevents blood sugar spikes. Opt for a lean variety to keep calories in check and when choosing deli options, choose low sodium if possible. Ideal lean proteins include deli turkey, tofu, beans or lentils, or cooked chicken (tip: prep extra during dinnertime to have on hand for lunch!).
  • Fiber Rich Carbs- These are our body’s preferred energy source and not consuming enough can negatively impact athletic performance and leave us fatigued and unable to focus. Choosing complex and fiber rich carbs makes our lunches work harder for our bodies by keeping us feeling full longer. Make simple swaps by choosing whole grain breads and wraps, opting for bean or whole grain pastas for salads and adding whole grain crackers to a bowl of soup.
  • Vegetables- Most of us don't eat enough of these but lunch is the perfect time to increase our intake. Add layers of tomato, cucumbers and crunchy lettuce to sandwiches and wraps, grab carrots with hummus and build a salad with leafy greens. Check out these meal prep salads ideas and pack for the week by building them upside down: heavy crunch veggies, dressing, and toppings on the bottom and lettuce on top to prevent it from getting soggy.
  • Satisfaction- A meal can have the ideal nutrition for our bodies but if it isn’t satisfying, we’ll be left full but searching for more. This satisfaction factor will look different for everyone and could be a crunchy/salty addition from chips or roasted edamame, or a sweet bite like chocolate covered almonds.


Time at the beginning of each week planning balanced lunches can go a long way. Make the most of this midday break and aim to add all the components above daily.

Thanks to our Contributing Dietitian, Jenna Amos, RDN, for this post.

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