We all know about the slow-release carbs in oats, but they don’t have to be eaten as breakfast or in a flapjack.
MEAL SUGGESTION: Curried Oats
“You’d have porridge before a morning kick-off; why not a savoury alternative for lunch before a later game?” asks sports nutritionist Gavin Allinson. “This is like a dal, swapping lentils for oats. Cook onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and just a few spices, and add water until the oats are soft. Stir in some spinach, to slow the release of glucose into the blood, and add Greek yoghurt for a protein hit.”
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Less calorific than brown and white rice, it’s packed with protein, fibre and slow-burning carbs.
MEAL SUGGESTION: Pea and Feta Risotto
“Try this the night before a game,” says Allinson. “Cook onions, garlic and pancetta for extra protein, then add the barley and chicken stock to boost the immune system. When the barley has nearly absorbed all the stock, add mint, nutrient-rich peas and a little feta, which has a third less fat than Parmesan.”
This low-GI Middle Eastern staple is high in fibre and protein, and is known for its anti-inflammatory qualities – perfect for post-match.
MEAL SUGGESTION: Chicken Tagine
“Moroccan spices such as cinnamon will help with muscle recovery post-match,” says Allinson, who runs a course on how to become a sports nutritionist. “Using bulgur wheat as an alternative to couscous, cook onions, garlic and spices, adding a tin of tomatoes and a chicken breast for added protein.”
This superfood from the Andes is a high-energy seed packed with carbs, protein and minerals.
MEAL SUGGESTION: Tabbouleh Salad
“This is good two or three hours before kick-off because quinoa releases carbs slower than white rice,” says Allinson. “Boil and combine it with chopped tomatoes, spring onions, lemon, parsley and olive oil. Serve with non-oily white fish for protein. And go easy on the onions – you don’t want them repeating on you mid-game!”
Black flecks in ‘Basmati and wild rice’ packets aren’t rice at all, but gluten-free whole grains, full of anti-oxidants and slow-burning carbs.
MEAL SUGGESTION: Winter Stew
“Wild rice takes longer to cook than its white namesake, so it is perfect for slow cooking,” explains Allinson, who has previously worked with Olympic medallists. “Cook it with onions, thyme, sweet potato, carrots and chicken for a hearty pre-match meal two or three hours before.”
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