The HealthStyle File- How To Pack a High Energy Lunch

What: You arrive at work before anyone else, you work hard but by 8am you’re starving!  In fact, most days, the food you bring from home is gone before lunch and you never really feel full.

Why: When you get up early you’re body is going to require more food, usually in the form of some protein, to help your body to stay fuller, longer. Also, when you are physically working hard, your body also has increased food requirements. When you get up early and you push your body to work hard, you may also notice that the foods you normally choose, no longer keep you full. Eating more protein along with some healthy fat keeps your stomach fuller, longer. If you eat mainly a carbohydrate based meal (bagel and cream cheese or a piece of fruit) it will take the edge off of your hunger, but not for long. If there’s no fat or protein in the meal, it will literally go right through you, pun intended!

How to pack the perfect lunch for work:

I think there a three different types of lunches most people bring from home: the traditional sandwich, dinner leftovers or the thrown together “kitchen sink” lunch, literally grabbing anything you can find!

  1. Sandwich.  This can be a good choice if you use thin bread (not a big sourdough roll). Add some lean meat and veggies such as tomato, onion or leftover salad; keep it light on the mayo and cheese as both of these high fat items can be energy zappers. You will need to add some fiber to this lunch to slow down how quickly these calories hit your bloodstream. The faster the calories hit your bloodstream the more fatigue you feel.  I would add a piece of fruit, maybe some sliced bell peppers or snap peas and some trail mix.
  2. Leftovers.  Another excellent choice. Just make sure your lunch doesn’t include a lot of nap inducing pasta or rice. If you bring these items from home, make sure you also include some protein and high fiber veggies or fruit. While having pasta for lunch can be healthy, if it’s mainly pasta with little or no protein and no high fiber veggies, it’s a recipe for a nap.
  3. The kitchen sink. You like to bring a little bit of everything from home.  You might have some leftover chicken and then you bring some string cheese and some carrot sticks and a few cookies or fruit.  This is probably my favorite lunch since I get bored with bringing a sandwich everyday.  When packing a “kitchen sink” lunch, you need to keep in mind a couple of things; about twenty-five percent of your lunch needs to be from a lean protein source, another twenty-five percent should be whole grain carbohydrates and about fifty percent should be high fiber items like fruits or veggies.  So if you grab some leftover chicken or a can of tuna, that will cover your protein needs but you will need to round it out with some whole grain crackers and some sliced up veggies and a couple of servings of fruit.

You should always include a plenty of water during your day.  If you get dehydrated, you will start to feel exhausted and tired, and there’s no high energy meal that will make you feel better after you get dehydrated.

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