The Ultimate Runners' Snacks

They're the most popular convenience food there is, and with a little thought you can make them the perfect runners' food too

Posted: 27 May 2005
by Anita Bean

The average person eats 230 sandwiches a year. That’s a lot of bread (and BLT) and no bad thing for runners. Sandwiches are handy for eating on the go and between meals. They’ve come a long way since the 1750s when John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, first placed a filling between two slices of bread. Nowadays there is a vast array on the shelves of supermarkets and delis. So, what’s best for runners?

There are seven factors to consider – calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, saturated fat, fibre and salt. Use the guide below – based on a 70kg runner who runs three hours per week (if you weigh more or use more calories, you will need more than these figures, if you weigh less or expend fewer calories you'll need less) – to check the label of your sandwich.When eaten as a meal, your sandwich should provide a quarter of your calorie and nutritional needs. As a snack, your sandwich should provide a sixth of your needs. You may need two sandwiches (for a main meal) to make up your nutritional quota.

Home Improvements

It’s not always possible to find what you want in the shops, both from a taste and a nutritional point of view, and even if you do find your ideal butty in a cellophane packet, it is hardly likely to be a good-value meal. So take control and guarantee the sandwich of your dreams in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Tuna and chickpea pita

75g (drained weight) tuna in spring water
1–2 teaspoons (5–10ml) balsamic vinegar
teaspoon (2.5ml) Dijon mustard
teaspoon (2.5ml) clear honey
Freshly ground black pepper
100g (drained weight) tinned chickpeas in water
40g watercress
1 tomato, chopped
1 wholemeal pitta

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, mustard, honey and black pepper together with the tuna and chickpeas. Fold in the watercress and tomato. Warm the pitta under a hot grill or in the toaster. Spoon the filling in the split pitta and cut in half to serve.
Vital statistics 433kcal, 62g carbohydrate, 34g protein, 7g fat (of which 1.2g saturates), 8.8g fibre, 1.1g salt.

Banana Hot Dog

1 long wholemeal roll (“hoagie”)
1 tablespoon (20g) smooth peanut butter
1 large banana

Split the roll horizontally and spread thinly with the peanut butter. Place the whole banana inside. Eat cold, or warm through in a preheated oven for a few minutes.
Vital statistics 418kcal, 65g carbohydrate, 14g protein, 13g fat (of which 3.3g saturates), 5.7g fibre, 1.1g salt.

Roasted vegetable and mozzarella wholemeal baps

2–3 plum tomatoes, halved
red pepper
yellow pepper
green pepper
1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
2 wholemeal baps
25g reduced-fat mozzarella
A few basil leaves, torn

Heat the oven to 200ºC. Place the tomatoes and peppers in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Cut the roasted peppers into strips and combine with the basil leaves. Split the baps and fill with the roasted vegetables and sliced mozzarella. Warm in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
Vital statistics 483kcal, 66g carbohydrate, 17g protein, 19g fat (of which 4.8g saturates), 8.1g fibre, 1.5g salt.

Salmon and spinach wrap

50g salmon (poached or tinned)
1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15ml) reduced-calorie mayonnaise
40g baby spinach leaves
40g cucumber, sliced
1 large or 2 small wraps

Flake the salmon and mix with the lemon juice, black pepper and mayonnaise. Place the salmon mixture, baby spinach and cucumber along the centre of the wrap. Fold and roll the wrap to secure the filling.
Vital statistics 442kcal, 68g carbohydrate, 20g protein, 12g fat (of which 1.7g saturates), 3.7g fibre, 1.25g salt.

Chicken satay sandwich

60g dried ready-to-eat apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon (15g) peanut butter
2 teaspoons (10g) mango chutney
1 teaspoon (5ml) lemon juice
Half a cooked chicken breast (70g)
1 tablespoon (15g) reduced-calorie mayonnaise
30g rocket
4 thick slices malted wheat bread

Mix the chopped apricots with the peanut butter, mango chutney and lemon juice. Cut the chicken into slices. Spread two slices of the bread with the apricot-peanut mixture then place half the chicken slices on each slice, add the mayonnaise and rocket. Top with the remaining two slices of bread. Cut each round in two.
Vital statistics 686kcal, 96g carbohydrate, 40g protein, 18g fat (of which 3.5g saturates), 9.7g fibre, 1.5g salt.

Filling The Gaps
MayoLow-calorie mayo or salad cream mixed with plain yoghurt (save 8g fat per tablespoon)
JamMashed banana for extra fibre, vitamin B6 and potassium
CheeseHummus or falafel for extra fibre and iron
LettuceRocket, watercress or lamb’s lettuce for extra iron, folic acid and vitamins A and C
Bacon and hamChicken, turkey or salmon (for a lower salt filling)

Shop-bought Champions

We spend £3.2bn a year on shop-bought sandwiches – but there are surprisingly few that come close to our prescription for the perfect runner’s sandwich. We trawled the main outlets to find the ones that best stacked up against our nutritional criteria.

Winner: Starbucks Falafel and Hummus Flatbread – £2.95
Falafel and hummus with tomato, cucumber slices and mixed leaves on a Mediterranean flat bread.
Plus points A near-perfect balance of carbs, protein and unsaturated fat, and rich in fibre.
Vital statistics 405kcal, 13.7g protein, 67.1g carbohydrates, 9.1g fat (of which 1.1g saturates), 5.8g fibre, 1.2g salt.

Prêt a Manger Chicken and Fresh Herb Yoghurt Dressing – £2.40
Chicken with a yoghurt and fresh herb sauce, fresh rocket and cucumber on granary bread. (Count two sandwiches for a main meal.)
Plus points Ultra low in fat and saturates.
Vital statistics 293kcal, 37.2g carbohydrate, 23.1g protein, 5.9g fat (of which 1.6g saturates), 4g fibre, 2.1g salt.

Marks and Spencer Tuna and Sweetcorn – £1.40
Tuna, sweetcorn, and mayonnaise on wholegrain bread. (Count two sandwiches for a main meal.)
Plus points One sandwich provides half your daily fibre.
Vital statistics 475kcal, 47.4g carbs, 23.4g protein, 21.1g fat (of which 6.2g saturates), 8.2g fibre, 0.9g salt.

Boots Shapers Cheese and Celery – £1.40
Low-fat cheese and celery on wholemeal bread. (Count two sandwiches for a main meal.)
Plus points Low in fat and saturates and rich in fibre.
Vital statistics 287kcal, 43g carbohydrates, 20g protein, 4.1g fat (of which 1.4g saturates), 5.4g fibre, 1.3g salt.

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Discuss this article

Pixie: I get through a copious amount of clingfilm
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:08

... to wrap my sarnies in, I mean!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:08

that's your story!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:10

A million household uses!

Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:11

Wellll, I make me own bread rolls using granary flour with extra rolled oats/barley/rye (I use a breadmaker though)
Low fat spread.
Any kind of meat.
Lettuce & tomato.

A meal in itself that.

And DON'T smother it in mayo, cause that's about a million caloriesright there.

Having an oaty roll means it's quite dense but fills you easier: last longer between sarnies.
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:30

strawberry jam today - cos it's Friday!!!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:32

Put it between two slices of what ever meat you have?
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:39

Mixture of metric & imperial, sorry. Mine's a water first type.

480 ml water
teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons skimmed milk powder
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
olive oil (about a tablespoon)
3 to 4 oz oats/barley/rye
24 oz flour (I use Dove's organic malted granary flour)
Half a packet of yeast
A dash of poppy seeds if your feeling fancy

Do it on the dough setting. At the end, divide into 16 balls (I tend to flaten them out nyway) and put on two greased trays.

The longer you can leave them then the better. An hour is good.

I put them in the bottom of the oven on the lowest heat too for a short while.

Then I cook em for about 20 mins on gas mark 4 to 5.

Then I eat about three of em before I feel bloated enough to let the rest of em cool!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:43

Yep, that's right. Half one of them mini-sachets. (BTW: Sainsbury's home brand yeast is loads better than the Hovis stuff. Comes out really heavy with Hovis. Lighter with Sainsbury's)
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 15:48

Jam and Cheese sandwiches!

Not that I'm suggesting that's what EP will be trying this weekend. That's my ultimate sandwich combi!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:21

EP - you really should try it - the sweet and savoury just mix right. It truly is the ambrosia of the sandwich world ;O)
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:32

Rice Pudding Sandwiches? Eugghhhh

But then ... <ponders> ... is almost similar in consistency to Mushy Peas and as a youth I used to love Mushy Pea sandwiches as well.

Smothered liberally with Tomatoe Sauce.
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:37

Maybe we could start a new thread on most strange Sandwich filling concoction !

Re: seeing the thing on tv about Jam and Cheese sandwiches - it was on after Saturday Kitchen wasn't it? Something about the science of cooking with cheese.

I was quite shocked because I thought Jam and Cheese Sandwiches were a purely family quirk cos every time I've mentioned them before, I get similar disgusted type reactions from people :o)
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:39

[Pulls face at the thought of jam/cheese sarnies]
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:44

Anna Freil butty -=yum:O))
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:45

I have heard of worse - apple sandwiches are surely some concoction made in hell. Or even worse ... bananananananana sandwiches <feels ill just thinking about it!>
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 16:45

Voodoo - I too eat cheese and jam sandwiches, as do most of my family - think it's a scottish trait!

Fish finger and melted cheese sandwiches - yummm!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 23:11

Marmite marmite marmite
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 23:11

Ooh look, I did a .00 posting! Without even trying!
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 23:12

Most pickles are so sweet that when you have a cheese'n'pickle sarnie you're effectively having cheese'n'jam.

Yuck, yuck, yuck! Unless it's cream cheese.

My favourite portable sarnie is pastrami and tomato chutney.
Posted: 27/05/2005 at 23:20


apple and cream cheese yummm

banana in granary bread is yum too

<thinks: must try the banana and peanut butter combo>
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 10:39

Cheeser and jam is yummy.
Blackcurrent jam with a really good cheddar or lancashire chese. Not sure its very healthy.....
I'm a big fan of cottage cheese with pineapple in it with lots of salad in whole meal pitta bread. Makes it go a bit soggy though.

Honey and banana is good too
Don't like peanut butter
If you want somethign really un healthy....(but very good at curing a hangover)
Nasty white bread (i.e. motherspride) with one potato waffle with cheese melted on top. YUM
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 11:38

Bacon and mushroom, or are we being healthy?

Can't get enough of peanut butter and banana.
Chicken, bacon (grilled) and avocado is superb.
For work I tend to have some kind of chicken/ham, coleslaw, salad and other stuff triple decker.

Not convinced by marmite sandwiches.
Surely the second piece of bread masks the taste of the marmite.
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 11:51

You obviously don't put enough marmite on your sandwiches :-)
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 13:54

I can easily stick a whole jar on a piece of toast, but why hide it?
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 13:56

Set the marmite free.
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 13:57

Oh, if we don't have to be at all helthy...

...chips and mayonnaise between two slices of thick white sliced bread.
Posted: 28/05/2005 at 21:58

or if we really don't have to be healthy - brie, bacon and cranberry sauce on ciabatta


stilton, walnut and celery on granary


fishfingers and cheese on white


peanut butter and marmite on anything ;D
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 14:07

- peanut butter and jam

- mashed tuna and banana

- smoked salmon

- cheese and marmite
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 14:30

tuna and banana???????????????????? eewwwww
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 14:53

Have you tried it?

Oh, cheese and jam for me too.

I notice that "subway" always want to put cheese in my tuna sandwich. Now that doesn't go, for me.
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 15:01

nope have to admit I havent, it just sounds ummmm ewwwwww, having said that, what do I know, I eat brown sauce sandwiches!
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 15:23

Cheese and orange marmalade :o)
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 18:51

Voodoo, If you like marmite, try marmite and marmalade. It sounds rank, a Zimbabwean told me about it. I gave it a go. Haven't had it since but it was quite pleasant. Sort of sweet and sour and well worth a try if the odd stuff floats your boat.

Same guy told me that tinned sardines with condensed milk is like amborosia from the gods. Couldn't bring myself to try that one but it has since been reconfirmed by many other Saffers and Zimbabweans. Goodness only know why the first person ever thought it would taste good enough to give it try.
Posted: 29/05/2005 at 19:36

condensed milk and sardines??????????? I'm going to vomit
Posted: 30/05/2005 at 11:13

A forumite once told me that banana and marmite was delicious, and being a fan of both I tried it.

Can't say I agreed with her - it was rank :oS
Posted: 30/05/2005 at 11:16

Tinned sardines and condensed milk were often found in the same army ration pack.

'Twas an easy way to force down food when you didn't feel like eating.
Posted: 30/05/2005 at 11:18

roasted pepper and mushroom sandwich,
Posted: 30/05/2005 at 11:21

peanut butter and tuna sandwiches are very tasty!
Posted: 30/05/2005 at 11:50

Left over gravy and lettuce. All crunchy and stodgy, yum yum.

Left over bolognaise with mayonaise and lettuce - crunchy creamy and chewy.

Tomato and balsamic vinegar and pepper. You have to have the seasoning or it's naff tomato sarnies. With the sweet vinegar and pepper though, it's lush.

My mum used to have apple and golden syrup sarnies, on buttered bread. That's f****d up right there.
Posted: 01/06/2005 at 10:36

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