Between all the talk about balanced breakfasts and healthy dinners, lunch can seem like an afterthought. But eat too little, and you’ll be more likely to overdo it at night. Eat too much, and you’ll feel lethargic and ready for a productivity-killing nap. The point is: A wholesome lunch can really make or break the rest of your day.
For some lunchtime guidance beyond what dietitians eat, here’s what six fitness professionals — from spin instructors to strength coaches — eat for their midday meals.
Spoiler alert: They really like chicken and veggies.
“I’ll eat a salad with chicken or salmon and whatever veggies I have in my fridge. I usually eat a late lunch, and I need to make sure the food I eat doesn’t leave me lethargic, because I usually teach an early afternoon spin class and my class relies on me to bring the energy. It gets me just full enough to take on an intense cardio workout, and it never hurts my stomach since it’s so simple.”
— Jasmine Zutter, owner and spin instructor at Class Studios
“I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I love a great veggie burger. My go-to is Dr. Praeger’s veggie burger with hummus and something crunchy on the side like nut crackers. I think it’s important to note that I don’t always eat this clean. If I’m craving a cheeseburger and fries, I let myself have a cheeseburger and fries. In my personal experience, depriving myself only leads to a counter-productive binge later on, so I try to be realistic with what my body needs but also listen to what my body wants — and sometimes it just wants a freaking cookie!”
— Liz Terry, certified personal trainer and core instructor at Lync Cycling
“Kale is a leafy green nutritional powerhouse loaded with antioxidants, but to be honest, kale and I didn’t hit it off immediately because I found it challenging to chew! My helpful tip is to massage the kale with your hands with a drizzle of olive oil. It softens up the leaves, giving them more flavor and creating less of a workout for your jaw. I dress my kale salad with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and nutritional yeast and top it with grilled chicken for lean protein.”
— Liz Arch, yoga instructor and founder of Primal Yoga
“For lunch I load up on carbs to keep me energized. I’ll do one cup of white rice and one cup of quinoa. Then I’ll add a mix of veggies — usually kale, spinach, onions, garlic, mushrooms and potatoes, plus chicken breast or thighs for protein.”
— Cristian Plascencia, senior durability coach at Onnit Academy
“At lunch, I’m trying to get over the hump and power the second part of my day. As we start to age, research shows that we need more protein to repair and rebuild muscles, so I try to add some quality protein at every meal.”
— Michael Piercy, certified strength and conditioning specialist, owner and founder of The Lab
“I keep it pretty simple for lunch. I usually eat brown rice with whatever vegetables I have in my fridge (I usually have a batch of roasted veggies in a big Tupperware), plus some chicken or fish. I get some carbs and protein to fill me up and vitamins and fiber from vegetables like bell peppers, onions and Brussels sprouts.”
— Chris Coggins, high school track coach and private running coach