National Pizza Day: Should runners eat pizza?

When my colleague suggested ordering in pizza for my work leaving do last week, I politely said no. Just the thought of all the grease and fat made my stomach do cartwheels. We booked a pub instead, but then the pub called to say they couldn’t do group bookings, so pizza it was.

I’ve not had takeaway pizza for years and I was expecting it to be loaded with cheese, tasteless, greasy and calorific. When it turned up, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t greasy in the slightest, it was crisp and topped with a lot of vegetables. It felt almost healthy. It probably wasn’t and I’m sure it contained a lot of calories, but it wasn’t the fat-fest I was expecting.

‘Delicious,’ I kept telling everyone, and I meant it.

Since then, pizza has been on my mind a lot. It was like the pizza floodgates had been opened. I began to wonder about healthier ways to make a pizza. Could it actually be a useful food for runners? I mean, it has plenty of carbohydrates and if you choose healthier toppings surely it can’t be that bad!

As it’s National Pizza Day today, I thought I’d share my ideas with you.

How to make a healthier pizza

Make it at home
If you make your own pizza rather than ordering take out, you can use fresh, healthy and lower fat ingredients.

Use whole-wheat pizza dough
When I eat pasta, bread or rice, I always make sure it’s whole-wheat. With pizza you can use whole-wheat pizza dough and spreading it thinly will reduce the calories per slice.

Use a tomato base and low-fat cheese
Use a fresh tomato sauce and spread this over the pizza base. Choose lower fat cheese and make sure you don’t use too much!

Choose vegetable toppings
Using a variety of vegetable toppings is a great way to boost the pizza’s nutritional value. Use as many as you can. Peppers, spinach, kale, are all great options. Whatever you choose, vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, and, dark green, leafy vegetables will help boost your iron levels.

Go for lean meat toppings
After running or exercise, your body needs protein to repair its muscles, and to make them stronger. Lean meats, such as grilled chicken, are a great source of protein. Using lean meats for your pizza topping makes pizza a great option for a post-run meal.

Enjoy it in moderation
Eat pizza in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet, and if you take the healthier options and make it at home, it can be a great food for runners.

What do you think about pizza? Any other ways to make it healthier?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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