Noodle Up: Tips for Healthy Options at Noodles and Company

Fueling up on the road or between games? Look no further than the healthy options at Noodles and Company!

They have you covered with plenty of options to satisfy everyone’s appetite.

I’ve spent my fair share of time in line with soccer players at Noodles and Company helping them to make good choices.

Keep reading as I share the same advice with you, as a soccer mom and dietitian, for healthy choices to power your performance to the next level.

healthy options at noodles and company

The best game day noodle bowl

On game days make 1/2 your plate carbs, 1/4 protein and 1/4 color. (1) This ensures you’ll meet your energy needs for optimal performance.

performance plate depicting 1/4 protein with meatball graphic, color with tomato slices and 1/2 carbs with noodles for healthy options at noodles and company

How to pick a healthy meal

1. Look for carbohydrate-rich pasta dishes

Since carbohydrates are the main energy source for athletes, choose a dish that has pasta as the main ingredient. That’s not too hard because Noodles and Company’s menu is mostly pasta.

You can choose from a variety of pasta dishes and types of pasta to make sure you’re loading (or refilling) your muscle glycogen stores.

Noodle/carbohydrate options
  • Penne Noodle
  • Cavatappi Noodle
  • Gluten-Sensitive Pipette Noodle
  • Elbow Noodle
  • Egg Noodle
  • Spaghetti Noodle
  • Rice Noodle
  • Udon Noodle
  • Lo Mein Noodle
  • LEANguini (low carb, high pro, fiber)
  • Zucchini Noodle (not a good source of carbs for pre game fueling)

2. Choose tomato-based sauces.

Tomato-based sauces are a great choice because they’re lower in fat than cream-based sauces. Look for dishes like Pasta Fresca and Spaghetti with Marinara that feature tomato-based sauces.

I recommend avoiding rich, creamy and heavy sauces if you’re eating before a game. Save these for a rest day or after a match or at the end of the tournament.

3. Consider adding a salad

Adding a salad to your meal is a great way to get extra anti inflammatory nutrients and fiber. Noodles and Company offers a variety of salads that you can add as a side to your favorite pasta bowl.

But keep in mind, salad shouldn’t be your main dish especially before a game, since it’s low in carbs and high in fiber. You could try the Med Salad which adds noodles to the salad, but it’s still a bit too low in carbs for a pregame meal.

4. Don’t forget about protein

Protein is important for muscle repair and recovery and I recommend having some protein for your pregame meal (and definitely post game meal).

Look for dishes that feature grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu like the Pasta Fresca with Shrimp, Japanese Pan Noodles or Pad Thai with Chicken. 

You can always ask to swap out a leaner protein and make the meal your own.

Protein options
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Sautéed Shrimp
  • Seasoned Tofu
  • IMPOSSIBLE™ Panko Chicken Made From Plants
  • Marinated Steak
  • Oven roasted meatballs

5. Check out the kids’ meals

If you’re looking for a smaller portion size when eating between games or for a snack, the Kids’ Meals section of the menu offers some good options. The spaghetti with marinara sauce is a good choice for athletes.

Sometimes my favorite go to is a few items from the Kid’s Menu to mix and match and get the most from my options.

6. Build your own pasta bowl

Building your own, isn’t really a menu choice, but you have the option to start with a base of buttered noodles and then top with your favorite lean protein, veggies and tomato based sauce. 

Another way I recommend customizing is to take one of the menu items and make it your own. You can swap sauces, noodles and proteins to get the meal that you know you’ll enjoy.

list of how to pick a healthy meal at noodles and company

7. Add a side of bread

Boost your carbohydrates by adding a baguette to your meal to get the extra top off of energy.

8. Get a rice krispy treat to go

The rice krispy treat on the dessert menu can come in handy for a quick energy top off prior to the game time or have it ready to go for an after game snack. 

9. Look beyond regular pasta and red sauce

Both the Pad Thai and Japanese Pan Noodles could be good options for a pre game or post game fueling performance plate. Consider adding grilled chicken breast to a lean protein option.

For a lighter meal, you could also try the chicken noodle soup that will provide sodium (electrolytes) and some carbs and protein.

Consider these other toppings too:
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Red Onion
  • Mushrooms, White
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage Blend
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber, Diced
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Mushrooms, Roasted
  • Zucchini, Roasted
Other toppings
  • Cucumber
  • Green Onion
  • Fire-Roasted Corn
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Asian Seasoning
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Cilantro

What to avoid before a game

Before a game you’ll want to avoid any spicy, rich, creamy and cheesy dishes that are high in fat as this will slow digestion and could cause you stomach upset.

Sauces like the tomato rosa and creamy pesto should be avoided as a pre game meal since they contain heavy cream. 

Stuffed pastas like the cheese tortellini are also higher in fat and may leave you feeling sluggish come game time.

And be mindful of when you eat salads and the zucchini noodles

While the zucchini noodles are healthy options, they’re low in carbs so they don’t fuel your muscle energy stores. If you want to order a zucchini noodle dish ask to add noodles to the dish or order a side of buttered noodles and baguette.

A better choice would be to choose the zucchini dish on a rest day when you don’t need as many carbs to fill your plate. 

Also, salads have high fiber and are low carb, so they won’t provide the fuel you need if you’re only eating a salad. Since fiber takes longer to digest, you may have stomach cramps, diarrhea or bloating.

Final thoughts

Choosing these healthy options at Noodles and Company can help you fuel your energy stores to get you ready for game time or help you fuel for recovery.

When you’re on the go and in between games, choose carb rich, moderate protein and low healthy fat options.

What’s your favorite item on the menu?

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