Stopping for some pizza before or after working out isn’t something that anyone serious about training is going to do often—if at all—but for this Super Bowl season, it’s likely that most people will have a few leftover slices haunting the fridge. And since Papa John’s, which is the world’s third largest takeout and delivery pizza chain, features former and current NFL stars
like Peyton Manning and J.J. Watt in its commercials and is also the official pizza sponsor of the league and the Super Bowl, we thought it appropriate to highlight its menu.

Papa John’s tagline is “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza,” and it has consistently been ranked as tops in customer satisfaction and product quality, so going in you can be sure the offerings are at least equal to or above what your local pizza spot makes. As with most places, you can create your own custom pizza, choosing your crust, proteins, and veggies, but make it easier on yourself and just order off the Lighter Choices menu. Those creations are going to be your best bet and will allow you to eat at least two slices (just make them thin crust) before getting into the macro stratosphere with empty carbs and greasy fat calories.

Stay away from the desserts that every pizza chain inexplicably now includes on its menu (what marketing wizard decided that cinnamon buns and pizza go together?), and try to resist ordering the Signature pies. Even though they are tops in protein, the loading up of oily meats like sausage and bacon can quickly shoot the fat content close to 20 grams per slice. And we probably don’t have to remind you to try not to dip your crust into the Garlic Dipping Sauce, as it boasts 17 grams of fat in one container, though it strangely has 12mg of vitamin C, or 20% of your recommended daily amount.

Here’s a look at what you should order before the big game so you can scarf down a few slices the next day that will fuel your workout and bolster your recovery as cleanly as possible. 


Look for foods with protein for sustained energy and some carbohydrates to fuel muscle. Stay away from fatty and calorie-heavy foods.

2 slices of Lighter Choice Grilled Chicken and Canadian Bacon Large with Thin Crust: White meat chicken, Canadian bacon, Roma tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, thin crust

Calories: 380 | Protein: 22g | Carbs: 40g | Fat: 16g 


After an intense workout, you need to build your glycogen stores back up with carbs and lean protein to jump-start muscle-tissue repair and the building of new proteins.

3 slices of Lighter Choice Chicken and Veggie Large with Thin Crust: White meat chicken, yellow onions, Roma tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, thin crust

Calories: 630 | Protein: 24g | Carbs: 63g | Fat: 24g 


Sometimes items that appear harmless can be stealthy fat and calorie bombs, like this:

2 slices of John’s Favorite with Original Crust: Pepperoni; sausage; mozzarella, Romano, Parmesan, Asiago, provolone, and fontina cheese blend; pizza sauce; original crust

Calories: 820 | Protein: 32g | Carbs: 76g | Fat: 42g