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Energizing Lunches

The perfect balance of protein and carbs


Tired of eating the same old soups and sandwiches every day? These easy-to-prepare lunches will fill you up and fuel you up.

Whether you’re brown bagging it at the office, packing a school lunch, or simply sitting down for a midday meal, you want to be energized by food that delivers a tasty nutritional punch. These satisfying lunches mix proteins and smart carbs, and are ideal for anyone, including those concerned about sugar intake or managing diabetes.


Protein power

Protein is a meaty topic right now—what’s the best source, how much we need, and when to eat it. Researchers have found it’s more effective to eat protein at every meal versus one big serving at dinner. This ensures our muscles are constantly supplied with the amino acids needed for growth and repair.

Portioning protein throughout the day may also prevent the risk of having excess protein oxidize and turn into glucose or fat. At least 15 percent of our daily calories should come from protein. Add protein to your lunch routine and choose lean meats or fish, legumes, dairy, and nuts.


Carbohydrate ranking

From 45 to 65 percent of our daily calories should come from carbohydrates. Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. Once digestion occurs, all carbs end up as glucose (sugar) that’s released into the bloodstream. The key is to choose complex carbs that break down slowly—and that’s where the glycemic index (GI) comes in. It’s a numerical system that measures how fast a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose, and then ranks it as either high or low.

High GI foods are digested quickly and rapidly raise blood sugar levels. Most processed foods fall into this ranking. However, some high GI foods do hold great nutritional benefits, such as ripe fruit, cereals, and whole wheat bread. Medium and low GI foods digest slowly and are often rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Foods such as whole grains, certain fruits, nuts, and most vegetables take longer to digest, which helps prevent insulin spikes and keeps blood sugar levels in check. Regardless of whether a food falls in the high or low GI category, the goal is to eat a varied and combined diet based on whole foods in proper portion sizes.




Snack smart!

Nosh on fibre-rich carbs and mix in a hit of protein. This will keep you energized and feeling fuller longer between meals.

  • Spread rice cakes with guacamole and sprinkle with flaxseeds.
  • Top apple slices with a spoonful of nut butter.
  • Dip strawberries into Greek yogurt mixed with granola.
  • Sandwich a piece of cheddar or shavings of Parmesan between pear slices.
  • Sprinkle cottage cheese with chia seeds.


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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD