Quick and Nutritious Lunch Ideas for Runners

turkey and cheese wrap
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Whether you run in the morning or afternoon, lunch is an important meal because it's either helping you with your recovery or fueling your upcoming run. Yet some runners either skip lunch because they're busy at work or they eat some fast (often unhealthy) food on the go.

It's possible to have a lunch that's both quick and nutritious. The key to a healthy lunch is balance. Try to incorporate at least three different food groups into your meal.

Make sure your lunch includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber to provide energy and help stave off hunger.

If you're bored with your current lunch routine, here are some suggestions for quick and nutritious lunches that don't require a lot of prep time. Most of them are easy to pack if you're brown-bagging it to work or school.

Black Bean Burrito

For a tasty black-bean burrito, put one cup black beans, two tablespoons salsa, one ounce shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, and cilantro on a whole-wheat tortilla.

Veggie Burger

Put one garden burger on a whole-grain bun, with sliced tomato and onion. Look for a veggie patty that has at least 15 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Broccoli Slaw Wraps

Use packaged broccoli slaw, cooked chicken, a tortilla wrap, mayo, and mustard for an easy, delicious wrap sandwich.

Turkey and Cheese Wrap

Put three ounces of turkey, shredded cheddar cheese, low-fat mayo, shredded lettuce, tomato in a whole-wheat wrap.

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

To make this classic runner's sandwich, spread some peanut butter on whole-wheat bread and place banana slices on top.

Chicken Caesar Pita Sandwich

Stuff grilled chicken and lettuce into a whole-wheat pita and top with light Caesar dressing. 

Hummus Veggie Pita Sandwich

Spread hummus inside a whole-wheat pita and then layer on marinated artichoke hearts, sliced red peppers, marinated sundried tomatoes, and sliced baby portabella mushrooms.

Roasted Turkey Sandwich

Put three ounces roasted turkey meat, 1/6 of an avocado sliced, two teaspoons reduced-fat mayo, four tomato slices, two teaspoons mustard, and one-ounce provolone cheese on two hearty slices of whole-grain bread. 

Mexican Pita Sandwich

Stuff a whole-wheat pita with vegetarian refried beans, salsa, lettuce, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Combine two medium-sized tomatoes with a couple of slices of fresh mozzarella and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top. Top with croutons or pair with a baguette to get sufficient carbohydrates.

HLT (Hummus, Lettuce, and Tomato)

Looking for a healthy alternative to a BLT sandwich? Put hummus, lettuce, and tomato on a whole-wheat sandwich bun for a healthy and quick lunch. You can also add some feta cheese and/or black olives for a little extra flavor.

Suggested Sides

  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cold pasta, bean, and vegetable salad
  • Baby carrots dipped in yogurt salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt with mixed berries
  • 1 cup vegetable soup
  • 16 grapes or 1/2 cup grapes
  • Tortilla chips with salsa
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.