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3 Healthy Lunch Ingredients to Help FUEL Your Day

By: Rebecca Turner, registered dietician and founder of Runners FUEL

What’s for lunch?
A question that rings threw many offices. Lunch time should be the time to sit be quiet and reflect on the morning’s accomplishments and prepare for the afternoon. Let’s face it; lunch is the quickest hour of the day. Some see how many errands can get squeezed in while others get immersed in their infinite workload unaware the hour came and went. Yet some seize the hour as an opportunity to lace up and disconnect from it all and run. 

Just as breakfast gives a much-needed energy boost first thing, eating lunch fuels the second half of your day. A balanced lunch helps you avoid the vending machine midafternoon. Build a light but filling lunch with these three healthy ingredients— protein, carbohydrate, and vegetables.


Powerful Protein

Protein reduces muscle breakdown and stimulates growth but it is also an easy tool to stay satisfied thought the afternoon. Pack a 1/4 of your plate with high-protein, low calories choices such as like seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Don’t forget low fat dairy provides a unique combination of protein and eight other essential nutrients.


Nutritious Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are an athlete’s preferred source of energy. They keep us fueled for what’s up ahead whether it be a hard workout or an overbooked afternoon. Fill a 1/4 of your plate with energizing, nutritious carbohydrates choices. Eating whole grains in place of refined grains may help trim your total body fat, as well as that much-hated belly bulge. Other great sources: fresh fruit, low fat milk, oats, bulgur, quinoa and brown rice.


Veggie Mania

Vegetables are jammed packed with immune boosting phytonutrients and fiber which fill you up - yet they bring less fat to the table. Sick runners can’t run so it is important to protect against illness. Make vegetables the other 1/2 of your plate or the largest portion of your lunchbox to give more vitamins and mineral with fewer calories per bite. Choose a side salad over fries; replace chips with veggies stick, or order extra vegetables with your stir fry or on your sub.


Balanced Brown Bag  

  • Whole wheat pita with roman lettuce, grilled chicken and shredded parmesan cheese. One tablespoon light Caesar dressing. Pair with baby carrots and an apple.
  • Tuna salad made with light mayo and egg whites only on whole grain toast. Enjoy a tomato and cucumber side salad with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Whole-wheat tortilla wrap of hummus, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives; plus a container of Greek yogurt, and berries.


Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian and certified sports specialist in dietetics and founder of Runner’s FUEL. For more information visit or email at a


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As the author of this article says, lunch is the quickest hour of the day, and she breaks down what you should have for a healthy lunch that helps fuel the second half of your day. It's simple 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbs, and 1/2 veggies. The author even gives you a few brown bag suggestions!


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