Lunch is served

Optimise your performance by swapping your cheese triangles and choccy bars for lean meat and veg, says Southampton’s consultant nutritionist, Mike Naylor

1 Feta cheese

High in calcium, this is a bone-strengthening strike partner that can help keep you off the treatment table. Feta cheese provides a real protein kick, but its secret weapon is Riboflavin. Research suggests this vitamin can help you beat migraines – ideal if you’re taking a rollocking from the gaffer.

2 Natural Greek yoghurt with blueberries

When it comes to providing antioxidants, blueberries are a powerhouse. The blue balls of health are great for your immune system and muscle recovery, helping you to stay in match-winning condition. They’re also loaded with fibre so you won’t have to raid the fridge at midnight. Greek yoghurt is the utility man of your lunchbox, supplying you with calcium, protein and fats to top up your energy stores and aid the absorption of key vitamins.

More after the break

3 Vegetable and fruit smoothie

Blend together a puree of spinach, apple, beetroot and carrot and you’ll reap the benefits throughout the day. If you start spotting a few more defence-splitting passes, thank the spinach: it’s rich in vision-boosting vitamin A. An apple a day keeps the doctor away – and gives you energy thanks to its rich fibre content. The nitrate in beetroot optimises your oxygen intake, giving your tiring legs a welcome pick-me-up. When the final whistle has blown and you want to collapse, anti-oxidants from the carrots will come to your rescue.

4 Wholegrain rice

After a long, hard day in the office watching YouTube, you’ll need an injection of energy to get you through training. Packed with low glycemic carbs, wholegrain rice will stock up your fuel tank so you can spend all evening chasing the ball. It will also fill you up, silencing a growling stomach. Let’s be honest: you need help keeping your dirty mitts out of the biscuit tin.

5 Grilled chicken

As one of the leanest, most protein-packed foods you can eat, this has to be in your lunchbox. Chicken is easily digestible so you won’t be doubling over during the endurance drills and it supports muscle growth, helping you to beef up for battle. High in branched chain amino acids (BCAA), a nice bit of chicken will also help your body repair itself after a workout.

6 Steamed broccoli

Do what your mother told you and eat your greens. Steamed broccoli is packed with vitamin C, a valuable ally in the war against post-match aches and pains. Speed up your recovery process and you’ll be ready to take on even one of Paolo Di Canio’s training sessions. Making this one of your five-a-day will boost vitamin K levels and reinforce your bones.

For more nutrition tips see:
Power-packed football sarnies
The ultimate matchday meals
No carbs? No Problem
Five-minute big game meals
How to eat for a game
Super salads!

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