We posed your question to sports nutritionist Sunny Blende. She broke it down like this:
In the office
To keep you energized and sated throughout the afternoon, aim to eat a lunch that’s about 50 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, and 20 percent protein.
“If you’re eating good fats like fish, avocados, and olive oil, you can up the fat percentage a little, and lower the carbs,” Blende says. “You want to eat something that’ll keep your insulin from spiking.” In general, that means a meal high in fiber and low in sugar. “No sugary drinks or juices,” Blende says. “Have water, or tea, or coffee instead”
Ideal meals include:
• A salad with tofu, soybeans, steak, chicken, or fish. “If you bring it from home, keep the dressing on the side” until you’re ready to eat it, Blende says. (Quick tip: buy pre-sliced veggies at the grocery store to speed up assembly.)
• A sandwich with plenty of veggies and some protein. “Go light on the mayo, and add cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, and tomatoes to get moisture in there,” Blende says.
• Half a sandwich and soup or salad. “This is great whether you’re bringing your own or going out,” Blende says.
• Gotta eat fast? Grab a yogurt with whole fruit and nuts. “Go for Greek yogurt. It typically has higher protein and lower sugar than regular yogurt,” Blende says.
Get tired and hungry in the late afternoon? Try splitting your lunch in two. Eat half at lunchtime, then the other half later in the day. “That way you won’t eat too much,” Blende says. Still need a pick-me-up? She recommends Greek yogurt with a few berries and nuts on top. Have a coffee if you need it, but stay away from sugary drinks like frappuccinos and mocha lattes. They’ll pick you up, then drop you down fast once your body burns through the sugar.
Brown bagging it gives you the most control over what you’re eating, but that doesn’t mean you’re screwed if you eat out with coworkers, clients, or your boss. Stick to the 50/30/20 rule as much as possible, and ask for dressings and sauces on the side.
“An omelet with a lot of veggies, or a wrap stuffed with salad first, then protein are good options,” Blende says.
Meal + Lunchtime Workout
If you’re planning to workout at lunch (check out the ultimate lunch workout here), you’ll want to stay away from fiber beforehand to avoid gastrointestinal distress. “You’ll need a protein source in the morning for breakfast, then a small snack midmorning,” Blende says. “Something like soup or yogurt.”
When you’re done exercising, get the fiber back in your diet through vegetables, whole fruits, and whole grains by eating one of the meals recommended above.