Healthy Lunch Ideas for Runners

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As a runner you need to fuel your body for performance. Typically, runners need a diet high in carbohydrates with moderate fat and protein. Your doctor or nutritionist can give you a personalized recommendation, but a typical runner's calorie intake will be in the area of 60 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent fat and 15 percent protein. Whatever the breakdown, be sure to get your calories from whole food sources as much as possible.

Lunch On the Go

A sandwich is a fantastic lunch for the runner on the go. Pack a sandwich and some fruit along with some juice, water or skim milk and you'll have a convenient lunch that you can eat at the park, the track or wherever your runs take you. Be sure to use a whole grain bread and lean meat like roast chicken or turkey breast. Opt for low-fat or no-fat condiments like mustard instead of full-fat mayo or butter. Top your sandwich off with some veggies like sprouts and lettuce and add a bit of low-fat cheese.

Go Green

Start your salad off with some leafy greens like kale or baby spinach. According to Liz Applegate, the director of sports nutrition at the University of California Davis, kale is particularly beneficial for runners because it contains folate, which increases your circulation. Add some colorful veggies to your salad and even some fresh or dried fruits to add carbohydrates to your lunch. Top your salad with low-fat cheese and lean meats. Add some healthy fats from sources like almonds and avocados and use a vinaigrette containing olive oil.

Pasta Fantastica

Pasta is a favorite food among runners because it packs the carbs they need. If you've got time for a cooked meal, pasta is a good lunch option. Opt for whole wheat pastas that contain more fiber to keep you feeling full longer. Top your pasta with a low-fat tomato sauce instead of a cream sauce -- just be sure that it's low in added sugar. Add plenty of veggies to the sauce and some protein from lean ground beef, chicken or turkey.

Snack Attack

If you don't have the time to sit down for meal or you have trouble eating a lot a once, put together a lunch made up of healthy snacks. Include items like fruits, vegetable sticks and hummus, whole grain rolls, granola, nuts, yogurt and beef jerky. So long as you get the food you need, it doesn't matter the form it takes. A snack-based lunch will allow you to pick away at your meal even if you don't have the time for a complete lunch break.