How to build a nutritious plate!

Posted May 4th, 2021

Have you aimlessly roamed around the supermarket wondering what’s for dinner and how to build a plate full of nutrition? What should I be eating?

If the answer is YES, then you are not alone. Millions of people across the UK struggle to know what to eat for them. Individuals are faced with thousands of “nutrition” messages from the promotion of slim shakes for weight loss to Guinness being a good source of iron. All of these messages can be overwhelming and can be difficult to decipher the recommendations, therefore let’s bring it back to basics. Here’s some healthy advice from our resident nutritionist Jane from The Performance Plate ……

Remember nutrition is individual, therefore no one size fits all!

Here are some key things to consider when building your plate. In general each plate/meal should contain a source of:


Exercising muscles rely on carbohydrate as their main source of fuel. The amount you need will depend on your training programme and dietary goals. Carbohydrate is stored in muscles as glycogen. The body’s stores of glycogen are limited and need to be topped up each day, particularly if you are exercising each day or exercising at a high intensity.

Source include; bread, rice, potatoes, quinoa, pasta, couscous)


Protein is vital for muscle growth, repair and maintenance. Ideally protein ingestion should be spread throughout the day (aiming for ~20g eat each meal)

Sources include; meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, seeds.

Fruit and veggies

Vitamins and minerals are vital to assist immunity and general body functioning. The portion sizes of these macronutrients will vary depending on your nutrition goals.

For example;

  • If you are involved in high intensity strength training you will require a higher intake of protein compared to endurance athletes and the general population.
  • If your training is predominately cardio (e.g. increased running) its most likely your plate will need to consist of additional carbohydrates.
  • If you would like to facilitate weight loss it is preferential to reduce (not exclude/restrict) fat and/or sugar from diet and replace any hunger cravings with protein/carbohydrate rich sources.

Muscle is gained through a combination of resistance training and a diet that contains adequate energy and carbohydrate. If you only concentrate on a high protein intake without enough carbohydrate, then the protein will be used for energy instead of being used to build muscle! Additionally, too little carbohydrate will lead to low energy levels, which will make it very difficult for you to train and perform at your best.


  1. Choose whole grain version if possible to increase fibre intake (feeling of fullness for longer)
  2. Aim for at least 1 portion of a protein rich source at each meal aiming (20g at each meal)
  3. Aim for at least 1-2 portion of fruit and veggies per meal and at least 5 portions a day

Try one of Jane’s favourite Spring recipes

Sundried tomato and spring onion quinoa.

This recipe is a delicious light meal or side dish and can be served hot or cold.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup quinoa to 3 cups of water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 can of black beans/mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5-6 sundried tomatoes
  • 3-4 spring onions
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 chilli (adjust based on preference)
  • Handful of spinach


  1. In a saucepan add garlic and small drizzle of the sundried tomato oil, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in quinoa, water, vegetable stock, beans, spring onion and chili powder; season, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in lemon juice and add spinach.
  4. Serve cold or hot.

Experiment by adding chicken, tuna, feta cheese, seeds, falafel, humus to suit your preferences and training needs. Let me know what you think!

The Performance Plate is a sports nutrition platform created by Jane, a qualified Sports Dietitian, with a First class (Hons) BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics and MSc distinction in Sports Nutrition and Exercise. Jane is able to offer a range of services including nutritional analysis, recipe modification and support, supplementation advice and goal setting on an individual basis. Jane can also provide group presentations and cook-a-longs to sports teams to provide specific dietary support.

If you’re  interested please get in touch via email or contact Jane via her social media platform @theperformanceplate.