Packing nutritious, non-yawnsville lunches for work is a challenge for most of us, so just imagine how tough it is for fitness instructors. They’re the poster children for good health, which means the expectations for them to be virtuous are high—but they spend their days running from class to class. They don’t have desks, and they’re certainly not doing fast food.
How, exactly, do they squeeze in healthy lunches, and what do they pack? (And heck, what should we?) Here’s how seven of the hottest names in fitness brown bag it. —Randi Eichenbaum
(Photos: Bethany Lyons; Lauren Imparato)
Founder of I.AM.YOU Studio, New York City
I take something green and usually prepare it the night before, so that I don’t have to think as I run out the door. My favorite is chopped kale and quinoa marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, tossed with diced avocado.
Keeping the kale in olive oil and lemon overnight softens it and makes it easier to digest (which means less bloating). I pack it in a jar or Tupperware—and head out! It’s really grab-and-go at its best.
(Photos: Jan Cain/Lauren Imparto)
Founder of B Fit Los Angeles
I’m a mom and trainer, so finding time to eat well has its challenges.
Lunch, for me, is usually lean protein, like fish or chicken, an unsaturated fat, like avocado or nuts, and a non-starchy carb, like broccoli or asparagus.
When I’m brown bagging it, I make enough food for a few days at the start of the week, so I’m prepared. Then all I have to do is grab my pre-made meal and scoot.
I also tend to eat food groups in a certain order to help with healthy digestion. So if I am having fruit, I eat that first (it takes about 30 minutes to digest), then green veggies (40 mins.), lean protein (up to 120 mins.), followed by fats, which can take up to to three hours.
(Photo: Bryna Carracino)
Founder of SLT, New York City
I think I did a juice cleanse successfully maybe once in my life, but somehow I ended up with a Juice Press insulated bag and now I use it to tote my lunch with me. It’s the perfect size and zips closed so nothing spills out.
I’m an infrequent cook and I eat out a lot—which can be not so healthy. When I’m not dining out, I like to be pretty healthy, so I’m a big fan of delivery from Souen, the macrobiotic restaurant with a few locations downtown. (Put it this way—I got the delivery guy a gift for the holidays. I see him a lot!) I swear by the Macro Plate, which has steamed veggies, beans, and a grain, but the delivery minimum is more than it costs, so I always over-order. To make another meal out of it, I pair the leftovers with something easy, like a piece of fish, a salad, or fruit with nut butter.
(Photos: SLT/Amanda Freeman)
Owner of Pink Iron, Los Angeles
My favorite lunch is a grass-fed burger patty on a bed of spinach with avocado, bacon, sun-dried tomato, and carrot strings. With that, I have a side of baked sweet potato slices and blueberries.
It’s a super easy thing to make at home, and I always pack my food in BPA-free glass containers.
My big tip: plan ahead. Over the weekend, I write out my menu for the week, then I grocery shop, cook, and pack everything up. My days can get pretty hectic and it always makes my week run more smoothly when I have my healthy meals packaged and ready to go.
(Photo: Holly Horton)
Founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga and SoulCycle Instructor, New York City
Just like laying my clothes out the night before (yes, I still do that with my workout and yoga-wear), I plan ahead. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, my day inevitably goes better. I have a cute and functional lunch bag I got from LuliTonix that I pack with a few essentials. (I don’t necessarily do a traditional “lunch.” I tend to be a perpetual small snacker.)
A Nalgene filled with water, ice, and some sort of cut up fruit in it, like lemons, limes, oranges, or strawberries for the added electrolytes (and to keep things fresh and interesting). One or two LuliTonix blends—usually a Glow! (my fave). A baggie filled with raw almonds or cashews—they’re the perfect easy-to-cart-around energy source. A piece of seasonal fruit or a baggie of dried fruit with no extra sugar added.
(Photo: Bethany Lyons)
Creator of the BOX180 Boxing Program, Miami Beach
Teaching back-to-back classes, it’s truly all about planning ahead, since I don’t want to feel rushed in the morning. I pack lighter foods to graze on before and after class and leave my bigger meals until I get home (teaching high intensity boxing class on a full belly is no fun).
One of my staples is plain Greek yogurt with shaved almonds and gogi berries. It gives me some great protein, fat, and a healthy dose of antioxidants. Another easy and favorite snack of mine is two hard-boiled eggs—if I don’t have them for breakfast, then I definitely have them later in the day, or I’ll do a rice cake with cashew butter and a generous helping of cacao nibs.
If I know it’s going to be a really long day, I’ll bring along some grilled chicken (which I usually make on Sunday) and veggies of some kind, prepped the night before as well.
(Photo: Christa DiPaolo)
Lead instructor, Flywheel, Chicago
I am always eating—I consider myself a grazer—so sometimes my lunch can consist of random items all pulled together, like avocados, hard boiled eggs, bananas, peanut butter, trail mix, and green drinks.
When I have time to sit down for lunch, I love to have a huge salad with turkey or chicken, avocado (are you seeing a theme yet?), garbanzo beans, spinach, and a ton of veggies. I always include healthy fats and proteins with my lunch to keep me from getting hungry and to keep my energy up.
I pack it in a Tupperware container that I carry inside an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack, which I carry around in my gym bag.
A note about lunch: It’s the perfect time to consume some higher fat foods because it allows you time to burn those extra calories. So, I make sure to take advantage of that time of day and enjoy some of my weaknesses like a little bit of cheese.
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