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When it comes to lunch meals, few are as sacrosanct as sandwiches. As long as you don’t slap fatty meats and gooey toppings between two slices of bleached out bread, the versatile sandwich can be the perfect lunchtime meal for athletes (think a winning combination of protein, vegetables and energizing carbs). But don’t let your sandwich options get stale. Mix and match these items to create a bona fide power meal in your hands.
1. The Foundation
A sandwich is only as good as what you decide to wrap it up in.
Germinated grains have elevated nutrient levels and are easier to digest. What’s more, sprouted bread tends to have a lower glycemic index for more sustained afternoon energy.
Old-school rye bread can be a fiber powerhouse, containing about 5 grams per slice. Make sure the first ingredient is whole rye flour and not inferior wheat flour.
The broad, tender and mild-tasting leaves of collard greens make for a fresh tasting and nutritious alternative to flour-based wraps.
2. Nice spread
Skip the squeeze bottle. These easy-to-make spreads can jazz up any sandwich.
Rosy beets infuse sweetness into this hummus riff. As a bonus, beets are loaded with nitrates, which can boost exercise performance. Blend together 3 cooked beets with 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Supplies a healthy dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Mash a ripe avocado with 1 minced garlic clove, juice from 1/2 lime, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
Adds vibrant punch to a sandwich. Plus, olive oil is a source of an anti-inflammatory compound called oleocanthal. Blend together 2 cups arugula, 1/2 cup fresh basil, 1/3 cup walnuts, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 3 chopped garlic cloves, juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
3. The Main Players
Forget the nutritionally corrupt bologna. Instead, try these smarter sandwich protein options.
A great source of ticker-friendly omega-3 fatty acids, it pairs well with pesto and rye.
These orbs deliver top-notch protein to build muscle. Try mixing together chopped hard-boiled eggs with plain Greek yogurt, curry powder and Dijon mustard.
Made from fermented soybeans, protein-rich tempeh provides probiotic bacteria for improved digestive health. Look for flavored versions for improved taste.
Surprisingly, roast beef is one of the leaner options at the deli counter. It also supplies a shot of energy-boosting iron.
4. Veg Out
Take a pass on the nutritionally lackluster iceberg lettuce. Aim to stuff your sandwiches with more inspiring and nutrient-dense vegetables.
Excellent amounts of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene. Pat oil-packed tomatoes with a paper towel to trim calories.
Roasted Red Pepper
Sweeter than raw plus hefty amounts of vitamin C, which may help lower heart rate during exercise.
Recent research suggests the baby version of items like broccoli, peas and kale are bursting with a nutrient bonanza.
Bugs Bunny’s vegetable of choice provides crunch and vitamin A to bolster eye, bone and immune health.
5. Cheese, Please
You can do much better than slapping slices of heavily processed American cheese on your mid-day meal. Add some sophistication with oozy, molded cheeses like brie, Roquefort and Camembert, which have been found to boost levels of anti-inflammatory compounds. Or try options like fresh mozzarella and soft goat, which generally have fewer calories than their harder counterparts like cheddar because of a higher water content.
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