Top 4 Nutrition tips for tradies

Leftover Roast

With the physical demands of being a tradie you need to eat and drink to perform, just like an athlete would. Fuel, hydrate and recover, ready to do it all again the next day is the cycle. The old reputation of tradies visiting the local take away to grab any fried food in sight seems to be changing, however there is still room to improve for nutritious food to be the norm on site! Let’s take a look at what food you can choose that is tasty, easy and nutritious too.

Many full-time workers, especially tradesmen often find it hard to stay healthy on the job. With early morning starts associated with skipping breakfast, buying a meat pie for lunch as it’s easy and having a late dinner; full time work can make it hard to find a nutritious balance.

A study [1] of Victorian apprentices has found that many young apprentice tradesmen are in general eating too much high fat take away and not eat enough fresh food on the job or at home. Why is this? They found it to be partly due to lack of cooking skills, time and facilities (no fridge or heating equipment on site), economics (fried chips are cheaper than a meat and salad roll) and the ‘norm’ around the worksite.

You may not see the negatives of a poor diet due to an active lifestyle immediately, but eating these types of foods can still do damage over time. An unhealthy diet can increase the risk of many diseases in the long run, that might make you wish you cared about nutrition when you were younger. Diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal cancer and stroke.  You are also likely to feel better when choosing more nutritious foods and even concentration can be improved when eating and drinking well.

1. Lack of time- got it covered

A little planning prior when you do have time, can overcome the lack of time issue day to day. Some great easy meals on the go are:

  • Smoothies, you can prepare these the night before or try one of Rokeby Farms protein smoothies
  • Wraps (include protein- e.g. tuna, egg, chicken, cheese and plenty of veg)- buy or prep the filling in a container the night before to tip in at lunchtime
  • Sandwiches- same deal as above; choose wholegrain breads most of the time
  • Leftover food from the night before (keep in a cooler bag with a frozen bottle of water) e.g. left over roast vegetables and meat taste good hot or cold
  • Can of corn and beans tipped into a salad bowl (can buy ready made from the supermarket) or with a few handfuls of mixed lettuce and a splash of dressing
  • Thermos of thick soup in the cold weather with a bread roll or pasta keeps well too
  • Jacket potato with baked bean filling (hot or cold)
  • Corn on the cob and dumplings (keep them warm in the thermos)
  • Stir fry with meat or seafood and brown rice
  • Grain salad (quinoa, freekeh or brown rice) with protein such as chicken or beef (you can buy plenty of versions now)

2. Regular meals- Plan ahead

Pressing snooze on the alarm can be very tempting when you have to get up early rather than leaving time to have breakfast. Skipping meals can set up a habit of unhealthy eating patterns long term. Have you ever skipped breakfast and then been starving by smoko, grabbing anything in sight? Set yourself up for success to make nourishing food choices. Try and pack something the night before to take an have for breakfast or first break and/or have it ready to eat before you go. I know some people who put out the cereal bowl, spoon and packet on the bench and they only need to add the milk in the morning.

Short lunch breaks (smokos) make it hard to make sure you are eating enough to keep up you energy for the day and getting a range of nutrients. Sometimes energy dense foods work well such as:

  • Nuts, seeds, cheese, avocado and a little dark chocolate

Liquids can also help add energy and nutrients quickly. The Rokeby Farms Protein smoothies work well here. They provide enough protein for a meal- 30grams, carbohydrates and electrolytes to help keep you hydrated from the milk.

To help with regular meals:

  • Meal prepping or planning meals for the week: choose a day in the week to do your shopping and time to prepare some of the meals you will have for breakfast lunch and even dinner.
  • Bring your own lunch, that will save time not having to go to the shop (and save some cash too)

3. Protein and carbohydrates for a working tradie

Protein

Everyone needs protein and carbohydrates but if you are working particularly hard then eating enough protein is important for repair and growth of your muscles.

Protein recommendations vary between individuals due to age, gender, weight, physical activity levels/goals and illness.

  • The average adult is recommended 0.75-1 grams of protein per kilogram of body
  • For adults training heavy loads or aiming to build more muscle 1.5-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram bodyweight is needed.

We would put jobs that are physically active for most of the day in the heavy load category.

  • Have a protein food at each meal and most snacks
  • Protein foods: Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt, Tofu, eggs, fish, lean meat, nuts, seeds, legumes

Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates are the bodies (and the brains) preferred source of energy which can obviously be important when working a long physical day of work.

It is recommended that carbohydrates should take up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily energy intake, this tends to mean around 1/3rd of the volume of your food is likely to be carbohydrate food. The quality is important as we are not suggesting to load up on sugar which is a type of carbohydrate. Most of the carbohydrate should be from nutrient rich foods such as wholegrains, fruit, dairy, starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato, corn), legumes and grains (e.g. rice, quinoa) however again this varies between individuals based on gender, age, and physical activity.

A combination of carbohydrates and protein will help you recover from day to day as well as provide you with energy. Here are some combinations you could try:

  • Cereal with Rokeby Farms Probiotic Yoghurt (Filmjolk)
  • Rokeby Farms Protein Smoothie with added berries
  • Eggs on toast
  • Brown rice, tuna and veg
  • Chicken sandwich using whole grain bread
  • Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Chilli con-carne (including kidney beans) with rice
  • Zucchini Slice
  • Yogurt with muesli and fruit

4. The importance of drinking water on the job

Water is extremely important (especially in summer) but often it’s sidelined due to the tastiness of ice coffees, soft drinks, energy drinks or even beers.

Drinks like these may give you a temporary spike of energy due to the high amounts of sugar and caffeine but will soon leave you tried again. Look for lower sugar drinks and have water as your main drink, it can provide you with many benefits, in addition to keeping you hydrated, some of which include:

  • aid digestion and prevent constipation
  • regulate core body temperature
  • keep you alert and switched on
  • carry nutrients and oxygen to cells

Pack your lunch the night before and make some time to shop. A little planning can go a long way.

References:

https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/media-releases/young-victorian-tradesmen-have-a-poor-diet-research-shows
https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-019-0451-5
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3464955/
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient
[1] https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/media-releases/young-victorian-tradesmen-have-a-poor-diet-research-shows
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