After a busy day training and working, the last thing you want to think about is what to cook for dinner. Therefore, I always try to go into each week with a rough idea of what meals I want to cook each night. This way, there is no stress throughout the day of getting to a supermarket, or having to think what you fancy/have time to prepare. For this reason, I tend to give my meals a little bit of structure. There is nothing I won’t allow myself to eat, but to make it easier to think of recipes, I set myself a few things I want to tick off each week. I try to make sure I have:
2x Vegetarian dish (E.g. Halloumi burgers, mushroom risotto, vegetable pasta, flatbread pizzas)
1x Oily fish dish (Salmon traybake, Salmon & Dill Tortilla)
1 Red meat dish (Steak and Mushroom Orzo, spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne)
1x Chicken dish (Fajitas, Parmesan Chicken Pasta, Piri Piri Chicken and chips)
Then the other 2 dinners allow for a little more flexibility. Maybe I’ll be at a friends for dinner, my parents, or out at a restaurant. This means I can be reassured that each week I am eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Planning dinner can for some avoid the possibility of that last minute decision to have a ‘snack’ for dinner.
So, outside from the obvious, why is dinner so important when it comes to training?
Why is dinner so important?
Refuel after a big training/working day.
When you’ve had a long training/working day, it can be hard to fuel sufficiently throughout the day. This is especially the case if you have training in the morning and the afternoon, or work has been so busy and you haven’t had time to stop. It can be hard to find the time to cook yourself a decent and substantial meal in the day, and frequently we rely on snacks either side of lunch to get us through. However, dinner is the perfect opportunity to cook a decent meal in order to refuel your body after a big day of training/working.
Give your body energy to repair over night.
The majority of our body’s repairing happens overnight when we are asleep, and this requires quite a lot of energy from our body. Therefore, in order to allow the repairing process to take place properly, we need to fuel the process. A lack of food can hinder this process and therefore inhibit our body’s ability to repair itself, and thus increase the possibility of injury.
Set you up for the following day.
Not only does a decent meal give allow you refuel after a big day, it also sets you up for the following day. Many of us do not have the time to have a big breakfast ahead of training, therefore a decent meal at dinner can mean that a standard size breakfast is all you need ahead of training/working the next day. If you do not have enough for dinner you can wake up very hungry, then only have time for a small breakfast, and thus go into your training under fuelled. If you have a busy workday, sometimes only a cereal bar is all you have time for. A good dinner helps avoid this and ensure you are still getting a decent meal in your day.
Enjoyable and sociable.
This is one of the best parts of dinner. It is a chance to catch up on what those around you have been up to throughout the day, or what they have planned for tomorrow. It is an opportunity to chat over food. Food is a great way to bring people together. It is very rare that we have time at breakfast and lunch to sit down with others and enjoy eating a meal, however dinner is usually the opposite. It is a time to slow down and enjoy the food in front of you.
If you ever find yourself getting to dinner and considering knocking it on the head, read the above points and think again. Dinner is a very important meal, and whilst I’m not a nutritionist, I have experienced the consequence of frequently knocking dinner on the head.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!