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Nutrition: Top tips for making a better sandwich

by ZwemZa on April 24th, 2018

I’m often asked what is the “best” food for young swimmers. My response? A sandwich! Sandwiches are easy to make, taste great, portable, and can supply carbohydrate, protein, and fat – nutrients needed by young swimmers.

What makes a truly great sandwich? In one survey, 42% of people said the bread is most important ingredient in a sandwich. Yet, I hear from many parents that they think they should eliminate bread, wrongly assuming it contributes to empty calories.

Yanni Papanikoloau, a researcher from Toronto, Canada studied the contribution that grain foods, including both whole- and enriched-grain breads, made to nutrient intakes.

He found that grain foods, including breads, contributed less than 15% of all calories in the total diet, while delivering nutrients that are in short supply in the diet of many young folks, including dietary fiber, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A. (Insert link As Mr. Papanikoloau put it, “bread is made out to be the villain, but maybe it’s the stuff they hang out with!”

So, how do you build a better sandwich? Here are some ideas that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks to fuel an active swimmer. Mix and match to find your favorite combination.

Choose a Bread  Choose a Protein  Choose a Topping
Whole Grain Pita Pocket Peanut Butter Honey
Flour or Corn Tortilla Scrambled Eggs Ketchup or Salsa
Whole Wheat Bread Turkey & Cheese Mustard
Enriched White Bread Tuna Fish Mayonaise
Enriched Rye Bread Ham Dijon Mustard
Sourdough Bread Chicken Salad Avacado
Ciabatta Roll Turkey Salad Cranberry Sauce
Wrap Mashed
  Olive Oil
Burger Buns Pulled Pork   Cole Slaw and
Barbecue   Sauce
French Bread Cheddar or
Brie Cheese
Bagel Egg Salad   Thinly-Sliced
Bagel Thin Roasted Red
Pepper Hummus

The ingredients between the slices of bread that should be the focus of delivering a healthier sandwich. All grains, both whole and enriched, are nutrient-rich and provide several important nutrients needed by young swimmers to fill muscle stores of glycogen and support growth and development.

Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, is a nutrition professor emerita at Georgia State University. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents, and coaches at  Visit her website at


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