Nutrition: Time for a power lunch

By Dr Kevin Currell, Triathlon Plus | Friday, February 19, 2010 1.00pm

With so many things to fit into a day, making a healthy, nutritious midday meal falls somewhere near the bottom of the list. But there’s no excuse for having the same boring sandwiches day in, day out. A good lunch is a must for any cyclist.

There are two essential nutrients to think about – carbohydrate and protein. During exercise, carbohydrate acts as the main energy source and the body’s small carbohydrate stores often become depleted. When this happens, the body is put under a lot of stress and those carb stores need to be quickly restored.

Protein plays a major role in allowing the muscles to regenerate, repair and adapt. After undertaking hard exercise, damage is often done to the muscles. Protein also allows the body to adapt to the training by providing the fuel to build new enzymes and muscle fibres. These quick and easy recipes all provide a good mix of carbohydrate and protein to maximise recovery and fuel you up for training.

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1 Couscous salad with pine nuts

Couscous: couscous

Ingredients:

  • 100g couscous
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • Finely chopped cucumber
  • Finely chopped red pepper
  • Finely chopped spring onion
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 handful of pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil

Method

Soak the couscous in the vegetable stock for five minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the salad vegetables. When the couscous has gone soft and fluffy, mix in the salad vegetables, pine nuts, lemon juice and olive oil.

Recovery advantages

Couscous is a fantastic low glycaemic index carbohydrate that will release the energy slowly over the afternoon. Most couscous is easy to cook, purely by soaking in boiling water or stock, making it a low-hassle food. Pine nuts are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats. you can experiment with different salad veggies.

Nutritional information

  • Energy: 479kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 55g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Unsaturated fats: 21g

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2 Sweetcorn and tuna wrap

Wrap: wrap

Ingredients:

  • 125g tuna
  • 2 tbsp of sweetcorn
  • 1tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • Sliced cucumber
  • 2 wholemeal deli wraps

Method

Mix the tuna with the sweetcorn and mayonnaise. Place the tuna mixture along with the lettuce leaves and sliced cucumber in the wrap, and roll.

Recovery advantages

Tuna is a fantastic source of both protein and unsaturated fats. It is easy to get hold of tinned tuna, but make sure it’s a good-quality source. Tinned tuna in oil will have a high energy content, so be careful if you are looking to maintain your weight. The corn will provide some nice sweetness and make the wraps more succulent. For some people, sweetcorn can be hard to digest, so if this sounds like you, avoid this one before an intense training session.

Nutritional information

  • Energy: 379kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 55g
  • Protein: 33g
  • Unsaturated fats: 3g

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3 Italian ham and avocado bagel

Bagel: bagel

You will need:

  • 1 plain bagel
  • Half an avocado, sliced
  • 2 slices of prosciutto ham

Method

Lightly toast the bagels on both sides, then top with the sliced avocado and prosciutto ham.

Recovery advantages

Avocados are one of the best sources of unsaturated fats you can find. They are a great source of oleic acid, and omega-9 fatty acid. This has been shown to have many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, reducing insulin resistance and supporting the immune system. Bagels are a great source of complex carbohydrate, with a lower glycaemic index than standard white bread. The dry cured Italian prosciutto ham provides the protein here, as well as adding its distinctive sweet flavour. Made from lean meat, prosciutto ham is lower in saturated fat than many other forms of sliced meat.

Nutritional information

  • Energy: 308kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 41g
  • Protein: 12g
  • Unsaturated fats: 7.5g

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4 Fusilli Greek salad

Pasta: pasta

You will need:

  • 100g fusilli pasta
  • Half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 7 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Chopped cucumber
  • 50g chopped feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs

Method

Boil the fusilli as per instructions on the pack the night before and leave to cool. Chop the vegetables and mix with the fusilli and feta cheese. Mix the olive oil with the mixed herbs and stir into the pasta and vegetables.

Recovery advantages

This is a simple meal which is based on a Greek salad. The feta cheese will be quite high in salt so when you are training extra hard the salt helps maintain hydration. A Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to support a healthy heart.

Nutritional information

  • Energy: 473 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 56g
  • Protein: 17.5g
  • Unsaturated fats: 10.8g

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