Nutrition: Top Tips for Making a Better Sandwich

Nutrition: Top Tips for Making a Better Sandwich

By Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN  | Thursday, April 19, 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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