A lot of the athlete’s I’ve worked with tell me they know what’s healthy, they just aren’t sure how to put foods together into a meal. So I thought I’d use a meal I made today, to show how I suggest to create a meal. The meal I made was from me looking in the fridge, and in the cupboards and putting things together. Most weeks I plan out my meals for the week, but since I’ve been on crutches, my meals of late have been a bit more casual. Today’s meal-Kale, BrownRice and Avocado Salad.
The best way to approach a meal, and a snack is to make sure you’ve chosen something from every macronutrient category. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats and protein. An example would be whole grain bread, with almond butter. The whole grain bread is a carb, the almond butter is a fat and protein. If you just have one macronutrient on its own, you won’t feel as satisfied (the satiety factor), it could cause your blood sugar to rise (a carb without the protein/fat to slow it down) and you could be hungry again in just an hour or two. An example of this would be whole grain toast with honey. That’s 2 carbs, and even though there’s fiber in whole grain bread, adding in a fat and protein will assist in helping to keep you full, in addition to slowing down the speed of the blood sugar entering the blood stream.
Let’s look at what I had made for dinner. It’s a vegetarian meal, but can easily be made with grilled chicken, fish or steak, especially if you need more protein in your diet. I also could have added beans-garbanzo, kidney, navy, etc. Here are the ingredients I chose (I made 1 serving) and the corresponding macronutrient:
- 1 cup Kale-carb
- 1 cup Spinach-carb
- 1/2 c cooked Whole grain-I used a blend of brown rice, barley and spelt-quinoa is a good choice too-carb/protein
- 1/4 Avocado-fat
- 1/4 Apple-carb
- 1/8cup Walnuts-fat/bit of protein
- Handful Dried Cranberries-carb
- Handful Low fat feta cheese-fat
- 1 tbsp Low fat balsamic dressing-fat
For this recipe, I didn’t really cook anything. I just chopped and plated, really easy, healthy and delicious. And in addition to having each of the macronutrients, this salad fulfilled numerous micronutrients.
Think of each meal as a plate. Divide the plate into sections. Half of the plate should be chock full of veggies, a quarter should be a lean protein, and a quarter should be a whole grain/healthy carb. Then, heart healthy fats should also be included, but don’t need a portion of the plate. Depending on your training period, you might need more healthy carbs and you can use a larger portion of the plate for it.
Looking at snacks, here are some examples:
- An Apple-carb
Here are some better choices:
- Pretzels with peanut butter
- An Apple with a slice of low-fat cheese
- Carrots and hummus
The first choices are fine choices, each having their own merits. The second choices however all have added protein and fat, making them better choices. So every time you sit down to a meal, or reach for a snack, make sure you are having a choice from each of the macronutrients.