The Ultimate Runners’ Snacks

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
SwapFor
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.