I’d like to start a new nutrition mantra: A salad a day can not only keep the doctor away, but can also improve performance and help manage weight. The humble salad bowl has limitless potential to become one of your best training tools if you know how to fill it the right way. Salads are often thought of as meal supplements—appetizers, sides or palate cleansers—particularly for calorie-starved endurance athletes, but packing your bowl with the right combination of ingredients can transform rabbit-food roughage into a nutrient-packed, satisfying entree.

Building an endurance athlete-worthy salad is easy if you use this equation: Greens + Protein + Carbohydrate + Good Fat + Flavor Zip = Power Meal

Super salad suggestions:

Steak House Salad

Greens: 1 cup spinach + 1 cup arugula

Protein: Sliced grilled steak or chicken, four to six ounces

Carbohydrate: Oven-crisp potato slices or wedges (Toss two medium baby red potato wedges with one teaspoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes, or until crisp.)

Good Fat: Olive oil, balsamic, chive and thyme vinaigrette (Whisk two tablespoons olive oil with one tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon each chopped thyme and chives.)

Flavor Zip: 1/4 cup caramelized onions + Parmasen cheese curls (shave cheese wedge with a vegetable peeler)

Tropical Shrimp Salad

Greens: 2 cups butter lettuce + 1 cup chopped frisee

Protein: Pan-seared Cajun shrimp (Heat one teaspoon canola oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Season peeled, deveined shrimp with a dash of salt, crushed red pepper and reduced-sodium Old Bay seasoning. Sear shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side, or until shrimp turns pink.)

Carbohydrate: 1/2 cup cooked whole-wheat cous cous

Good Fat: Sweet and sour dressing (Whisk two tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil with two teaspoons each of lemon and pineapple juices, and one teaspoon minced shallot. Add salt and pepper to taste.)

Flavor Zip: Grilled chopped pineapple, orange bell pepper and corn + chopped fresh mango

Mediterranean Salad

Greens: 1 cup chopped kale + 2 cups romaine lettuce

Protein: 1/2 cup cooked lentils + 1/2 cup chickpeas

Carbohydrate: Whole-wheat pita chips (Cut two whole-wheat pitas into wedges and brush with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin. Toast in 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes, or until crisp.)

Good Fat: Creamy paprika yogurt dressing (Whisk together four tablespoons low-fat plain yogurt with two tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon chopped dill and salt and pepper.)

Flavor Zip: two tablespoons crumbled feta cheese + 1/4 cup roasted red peppers + one tablespoon pitted and chopped black olives