7 healthy lunches for footballers

Whether it's a pre-workout feast or an energy refill, give your body what it needs with these midday meals from nutritionist Liam Holmes


Bulking out this protein and omega-3 filled meal with nutrients from the lentils and veg adds fibre and energy boosting carbs
Ingredients (Serves 1)
1 large salmon fillet
1 tsp Cajun spice mix
1 packet pre-cooked puy lentils
Broccoli (50g)
Extra green veg: asparagus, spinach, kale (optional)
How to make It
1 Pre-heat oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5 and rub the salmon with Cajun rub before placing on a non-stick baking tray
2 Put in the oven for 8-10 minutes whilst steaming the broccoli in a pan (four minutes) and heating the lentils over gentle heat on the hob
3 Serve once the salmon is cooked to your liking
Kcal: 345, Protein: 31g, Carbs: 26.2g, Fat: 13.2g

More after the break

Related article: Eat like an athlete: Cajun salmon and spicy veggie rice

Spicy meals and hot chillis boost the body’s fat-burning metabolism and raise testosterone levels which with the lean meant helps with muscle development and repair

Ingredients (Serves 1)
Lean steak (150g), cut into strips
Mexican flavoured grains (125g), recommend Merchant Gourmet
½ avocado
5 diced cherry tomatoes
½ sliced red and yellow peppers
Salad leaves
1 tsp chipotle paste
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 limes, squeezed
Fresh coriander
Salt & ground black pepper
Corn on the cob/sweetcorn (optional)

How to make it
1 Heat oil in a pan, fry onions and red pepper for 3-4 minutes then add the steak and paste – then lower the heat
2 Season and keep stirring until the steak is browned and cooked to your liking
3 Heat the Mexican grains as per packet’s instructions
4 Spread it out so that it covers the bottom of a bowl with the salad leaves
5 Add the steak, peppers and onions
6 Smash the avocado with a fork, then season it with salt and pepper
7 Serve with lime wedges and garnish with coriander

Kcal: 656, Protein: 55g, Carbs: 38g, Fat: 27.9g

Related article: Eat like a Premier League star


Steaks are rarer these days on the footballer’s food plan but the rich source of muscle nourishing iron and protein can still play a holding role when it comes to controlling hunger and replacing nutrients
Ingredients (serves 1)
Cooked steak (160g) cut into ½in/2cm cubes
1 tbsp drained capers
1 tbsp chopped pickles
1 tbsp chopped red onion
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 ½-inch thick slices sourdough bread
1 large tomato, sliced
1 small bunch salad leaves
Salt & ground black pepper
How to make it
1 Pan fry the steak until cooked to liking
2 Mix the cooked steak, capers, pickles, onion, mustard and two tablespoons of mayonnaise in medium bowl. Toss to blend
3 Season the salad with salt and pepper
4 Spread bread with remaining mayonnaise, place the steak mix on the bread, top with tomato slices, salad and second slice
 Kcal: 544, Protein: 50g, Carbs: 52g, Fat: 14.2g

Related article: Aaron Ramsey: 5 foods I can't live without

Chicken salad


As a pre-match meal this offers energy boosting carbs from the potatoes plus an oxygen boosting nitric oxide hit from the beetroot and lean protein in the chicken
Ingredients (Serves 1)
1 chicken breast
Sweet soy sauce  (70ml)
½ tbsp sesame seeds 
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated 
1 cooked beetroot 
Potatoes (100g), peeled, coarsely chopped 
Frozen or fresh green beans (50g)
Coarsely chopped fresh mint (2g)
1 tbsp toasted slivered almonds 
1 tbsp mayonnaise 
1 tbsp natural yoghurt 
1 tsp wholegrain mustard 
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
How to make it
1 Mix chicken, soy sauce, sesame seeds and ginger in a large bowl
2 If you have time cover and place in the fridge for two hours to marinate
3 Slice beetroot into thin matchsticks and place in a large bowl
4 Cook the potato in salted boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender
5 Refresh under cold running water and drain
6 Cook the beans for 2-3 minutes or until bright green and tender crisp, drain and add to the beetroot with the potato, mint and almonds
7 Gently toss until just combined. Mix the mayo, yoghurt, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and pour over the beetroot mixture
8 Drain the chicken from the marinade and cook in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden brown and cooked through
Kcal: 443 Protein: 45g, Carbs: 29g, Fat: 12.3g

Related article: Eat yourself clever

Chicken wraps

An excellent on the go lunch option. Additional protein from the hummus plus there’s slow release energy to be gained from using wholemeal wraps

Ingredients (Serves 1)
2 tablespoons reduced-fat hummus
1 wholemeal tortilla
1 large grilled chicken breast, cut into thin strips 
½ small courgette, shaved using a peeler
Handful of lettuce leaves
4 tsp chilli oil/1 tsp chopped chillis
Salt & ground black pepper
How to make it
1 Spread two tablespoon hummus over each tortilla, layer strips of chicken and courgette on top and add the shredded lettuce
2 Drizzle each wrap with one teaspoon of chilli oil or flakes; season with salt and pepper
Kcal: 555, Protein: 43g, Carbs: 35.8g, Fat: 17g
Related article: Eat for the off-season

Chicken caesar salad

A rich source of nutrients including omega-3 in the anchovies, vitamin B-12 and niacin in the protein-packed chicken whilst the lettuce salad is a lean source of dietary fibre, vitamin A, folate and cramp-combating potassium

Ingredients (Serves 1)
1 skinless chicken breast
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 romaine lettuce heart
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 slice of ciabatta bread
Salt & ground black pepper

2 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
Parmesan cheese (15g), finely grated
2½ tbsp cold water
How to make it
1 For the dressing finely chop anchovy fillets and garlic and mix together to form a kind of paste
2 Add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, Parmesan and water and stir well to make a pourable dressing
3 Put chicken breast between two sheets of cling film and beat it with a rolling pin to about 1cm thick
4 Season both sides with salt and plenty of black pepper
5 Oil a large non-stick frying pan and cook chicken for two minutes on a medium heat
6 Turn and cook for 2–3 minutes on the other side to brown and cooked through
7 Make the salad tearing large leaves into smaller pieces and arrange in a large serving dish - scatter over the tomatoes
8 Toast the slices of ciabatta and cut the cooked chicken breasts into thick strips
9 Scatter these over the lettuce and tomatoes and toss everything together lightly
10 Spoon over half the dressing and serve while the chicken is warm
Kcal 431, Protein: 45g, Carbs: 18.6g, Fat: 22g

Chelsea Ladies: Eat like a champion


A simple but filling lunch with metabolism boosting properties and energy sources from the variety of beans and vegetables. A great source of vegetarian protein
Ingredients (Serves 2)
Olive oil   
1 small chopped onion   
½ green, bell pepper   
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp chilli powder   
2 tsp ground cumin   
Black pepper   
1 tin chick peas
1 tin red kidney 
1 tin black beans 
1 tin chopped tomatoes, undrained   
1 tbsp cornmeal   
Fresh coriander (15g)
Water (200ml)
Greek yoghurt
How to make it
1 Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
2 Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan and sauté for three minutes
3 Stir in water, garlic, puree, chilli, cumin, three tins of beans and tomatoes
4 Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
5 Stir in cornmeal and cook for two minutes
6 Remove from heat and stir in coriander
7 Serve with Greek yoghurt
Kcal: 260, Protein: 17g, Carbs: 37g, Fat: 7.5g

Recommended for you:
7 best breakfasts for footballers
7 best snacks for footballers
7 high-protein dinner recipes for footballers

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