Learn everything there Is to know about fItness, performance, fat loss and lifestyle from Adrian McDonnell.
With loads more people returning to work this past week, for many this brings with it a transition back into eating on the go. Eating on the go is common for young adults who live a busy lifestyle. I’m going to teach you how to make the best possible choices no matter what scenario you’re in.
Firstly, if you don’t think about what you’re going to eat well in advance of preparing it, the odds are you’re going to opt for a quicker, more convenient source of food. That is why I always recommend you to plan your week ahead so you are in control of their diet.
That being said, sometimes we might get called into work unexpectedly or get asked to do something without warning meaning we have no lunch or food prepared for the day. When this does happen, here are some easy to follow tips you can implement to make the best possible choices and to keep you on track with your goals.
It is common for us to mistake being dehydrated with being hungry so make it a habit to bring a bottle of water with you on every journey. Not only will this keep you hydrated, when we get thirsty we often tend to go for the lucrative bottle of soda over the bottle of water. Pro tip: before your lunch, drink a glass of water to keep you fuller for longer.
Understand the three main food groups/macros – protein, carbohydrates and fats and their role. Without going into much detail:
Categorising foods as sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats will make you better able to decide what you need.
What do you actually need? At lunch time, a lot of people get a mid-afternoon slump and feel drowsy and tired. This can often be as a result of eating excess carbs at lunch time. Instead of always opting for a high carb meal, a better alternative might be to choose a high protein, high fibre meal. It’s likely you’ll reduce your calorie intake, be less likely to hit that mid-afternoon wall we all experience and reach your goals faster.
I get it, carbs taste great! I like them as much as you do. Things like wraps, rolls or three scoops of mash with your carvery are always tempting. But unless you have a hard pitch session or are doing a max effort, heavy lifting session later that evening in the gym, you probably don’t need all those excess carbs. Instead, save those carbs until after your gym session that evening and you’ll have earned them by then. Not to mention, your body will genuinely need them.
Now that you have kept yourself hydrated, understand the different types of food and decided what you need, it’s time for me to show you how to make the best possible decision when eating out for lunch at a restaurant, deli or grabbing something quickly at a supermarket.
Eating lunch at a restaurant
Think: As you queue up for your carvery at a restaurant or line up at a grill, think about how the food you are about to eat has been cooked. This is a game changer! For instance a grilled or roasted chicken breast is probably going to have a lot less calories than a fried chicken breast. Why? Because a chef’s top priority is to get the food prepared as fast as possible. It’s unlikely he/she is concerned about the fact you’re trying to drop bodyfat. This means, the fried chicken, egg fried rice or chips you’re about to order has likely been cooked in sunflower oil – not coconut oil!
Why is this issue? Because heating sunflower oil turns an already unhealthy oil into something much worse – a trans fat. Your body doesn’t recognise trans fats so once consumed, it gets automatically stored as visceral fat - that stubborn fat around your abs that seems to be impossible to get rid of.
So what’s the alternative? Opt for foods that have been grilled, roasted or boiled. There is less risk of them being drizzled with excess oil and can easily save you up to 200 calories without majorly impacting the food you eat.
Now, onto your actual lunch where the high protein, low carb option is often going to be the best option.
If you’re lining up for a carvery, you would ask for meat and lots of extra veg instead of opting for the creamed potatoes. Have some gravy on top – if this is the only “unhealthy” thing on your plate, you don’t have much to worry about. If you desperately want a small serving of carbs, choose boiled potatoes (preferably sweet potatoes) or boiled rice as they haven’t been tampered with as much as creamed/roast potatoes, chips or fried rice.
If you’re eating at a grill, I managed to stay in shape while eating Chipotle (Mexican food) regularly in America by opting for double meat (e.g. chicken and shredded beef) with lots of veg, salsa and beans. While fried chicken isn’t optimal, if it’s all that’s on the menu you have to make the best possible decision based on what’s in front of you. Again, avoid the fried rice, or chips & carbs in general and opt for higher protein and fibrous foods.
If you’re eating in a restaurant that serves various salads, take your pick but make sure to read all the ingredients. Most restaurants that serve salads give you the option of adding extra meat so opt for this if you feel a carb free lunch mightn’t leave you feeling full.
eating lunch from a deli
There’s a common misconception that salads from delis are boring but I want you to at least give them a chance before you start bad mouthing them! If you’re at a deli, ask the assistant for a salad bowl and here’s how you’re gonna fill it up.
Firstly choose your protein. Or even better, choose your proteins! Most delis have chicken breasts & chicken tikka chopped up, slices of turkey, ham and even boiled eggs. Before you start asking ‘aren’t some of those meats processed?’ The answer is yes, they are. Some (such as ham) might not be optimal BUT, it’s a better alternative than getting a processed AND greasy breaded chicken breast.
Once you have your protein chosen, it’s time to load up on the veg. Take your pick – there’ll likely be plenty of peppers, lettuce, sweetcorn, spring onions and maybe even some frozen vegetables chilled. Fill the rest of your bowl with your veg.
Finally, add some flavour. Most delis have a good selection of sauces. This ranges from ketchup, to barbecue to peri peri. Like the gravy at the restaurant (provided you don’t go too overboard), if this is the only “unhealthy” thing you’re having for lunch, you don’t have much to worry about.
EATING LUNCH FROM A supermarket
If you’re a real busy b*stard and only have time to run in and out of your supermarket and eat your lunch in your car, I’ve got you covered. Assuming the shop doesn’t have a deli, here’s what you’re gonna do:
In this scenario, a lot of people would just opt for something like a Mooju and packet of chocolate peanuts but I’d strongly advise against this. They both might have ‘high protein’ in fancy writing on the label but what you don’t see is the ridiculous amount of sugar and calories in both of these. In fact a 750ml Mooju and 100g packet of chocolate peanuts combined have almost 1000 calories in total! While they do taste nice and you might be tricked into thinking they are nutritious because they have 'high protein' written on them, the calorie count alone in both of these could add up to 50% of your total recommended amount. Protein bars are a step down from these – not optimal but not as bad.
But for best results, try combining your salad with your meat.
As a young adult, I know it can sometimes be difficult to have your meals prepared and organised in advance. If you are forced to eat on the go but have a health and fitness related goal you want to achieve, it’s important you’re able to make the best possible decisions in the situation which presents itself to you. Especially during the week.
However, it is equally important to treat yourself and take a step back every now and then – particularly if you have been keeping things pretty strict during the week. That is what I teach all of my online clients. This allows them to include their favourite foods every week in their diets and still drop bodyfat. Why is this working so effectively for them? Because they’re able to stick to this template long term and when they do treat themselves, they don’t have to feel full of guilt or believe they screwed everything up.
If you’re currently in a routine which isn’t serving you and would like to get into a new one which will, I’m opening up spaces on my online training. You’ll get next level accountability and guidance and an opportunity to work with a coach who understands your struggles.
Click here to book your FREE consultation form. What's involved? You'll tell me about your health and exercise history and what goals you have in mind for the future. Then, I'll devise a plan that outlines the steps involved to get there. Book you free consultation call now.
Adrian McDonnell -
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