Back to School… The High Performance Lunch

Back to School… The High Performance Lunch

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Getting ready for back to school means packing food — a lot of it.  Here at WINforum we work hard to create high performance lunch ideas that are easy to fix and satisfy even the pickiest customers.

Lunch serves as the primary fuel source for after school activities. It should be packed with high-energy carbohydrates and have a balance of lean protein and healthy fats.  Lunch and afternoon snacks combined should contain approximately 30% of the athletes’ fuel for the day.

Some High Performance lunch principles to live by:

Four Foods:

High performance lunches should contain at least four foods.  This means sandwich, fruit, veggie and milk. Or burrito, salad, yogurt and fruit.  The reason four is the magic number is that lunch provides the bulk of fuel for afternoon activities.  Lunch also contributes a significant portion to the overall nutrition an athlete gets in a day.


Carbohydrate and Protein:

A high performance lunch needs to have high energy carbohydrates in the form of bread, rice, pasta or pretzels as well as fruit and dairy.  Eating protein during lunch helps to offset muscle tissue breakdown during practice; however only 25 grams can be used at a time, so no need to go overboard.  Meat on a sandwich and a glass of milk will meet your needs.


Pack Extra:

Sports nutritionists recommend packing extra food into an athlete’s lunch bag as snacks for morning and pre-practice. That way, they can choose from all their snack options throughout the day. Having multiple options to snack on incentivizes eating and can help athletes fuel well.

The sample below illustrates what needs to go in an athlete’s high performance lunch for the day:


2 cheese sticks (frozen)

1 baggie trail mix

1 apple

1 banana

1 pear

2 Turkey /Cheese Wraps

2 box of milk

1 Clif Bar

1 32 oz sports drink

brown paper bag


Add Color:

A colorful lunch will provide added nutrients to an athlete’s diet as well as make a lunch look tasty.  Think fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and even foods like salmon are a colorful addition to an athlete’s lunch.

We have posted several great resources on our Pinterest page that will be helpful in planning your meals for back to school.  Also, the chart below is a simple way to ensure you have what you need to be successful in sports and in school.  FEED YOUR GAME and your brain!


How To Feed Your Game

High Performance Lunch Edition

Step 1: Grains and Protein

Energy + Muscle building

turkey + cheese sandwich

chicken + cheese quesadilla

hummus + pita

beans + rice

peanut butter + jelly

leftover chicken + rice

pasta + chicken salad

greek yogurt + granola

Step 2: fruit

Energy + Vitamins




fruit leather





step 3: veggies

vitamins + minerals + fiber



snow peas




Step 4: Snacks

Extra Energy For Sport + School


clif bar

string cheese

granola bar

trail mix

fig neutons

Step 5: Hydrate

Performance Enhancing


sport drink

milk box (post workout)

juice box

About the author

Emily Edison, owner and founder of Momentum Nutrition & Fitness, is a recognized expert in the areas of sports nutrition and disordered eating, with over 17 years of experience as a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. Her philosophy centers around fueling with whole foods and eating intuitively, empowering people to eat for performance, improve vitality, and develop a positive relationship with food and body.