Build Muscle With a Healthy Sandwich

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by Stack Magazine

Beat the boredom of a plain turkey sandwich — and help your athlete build lean muscle while you’re at it — with this tasty alternative, recommended by New York Jets nutrition consultant Wendy Meyer Sterling.


1 ounce low-fat Muenster cheese
1/2 avocado
Dijon mustard
3 ounces turkey
1 whole-grain bagel

The Breakdown:

Meyer Sterling recommends that carbs comprise 50 to 65 percent of your athlete’s meal. “The higher your calorie requirements, the more dense, higher-caloric bread I prefer,” she says. Her recommended option: a bagel. Limit fiber intake to six grams pre-workout; more can prevent your athlete from “effectively utilizing the carbohydrates,” she says.

Meyer Sterling suggests that lean protein makes up 10 to 15 percent of your athlete’s meal. If they are attempting to increase lean muscle, add a few more ounces.

If your kids don’t dig turkey, Meyer Sterling suggests equally lean protein-rich foods like chicken, tuna fish or reduced-fat ham. “What you’re looking for is variety,” she says. “You want to rotate through some of the choices on a day-to-day basis.”  

Low-fat Muenster cheese
Meyer Sterling thinks reduced-fat cheese is a win-win choice, because it adds more protein and some calcium, of which she says your athlete needs about 1,300 milligrams daily. She recognizes that getting that much can be a challenge, but “adding in some kind of low-fat cheese can really contribute to that requirement.”

Spinach, tomato and avocado
“The deeper, more vibrant the color, the more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” Meyer Sterling says. Vitamin C and beta carotene, two nutrients in all three toppings, contribute to immune function, and “both are also powerful antioxidants, which play a role in reducing inflammation in the body,” she says. In other words, antioxidants help reduce muscle soreness.

Dijon mustard
This is a good alternative to mayonnaise, which can be very dense. One tablespoon of mayo contains 90 calories and 10 grams of fat; throw it on an eight- or 12-inch sub, and “that could add about 300 to 400 calories [and] about 30 to 40 grams of fat,” Meyer Sterling says.

Meyer Sterling suggests packing on healthy pounds by keeping the carb-to-protein-to-fat ratio the same but adding a few hundred extra calories daily, depending on desired weight gain [500 extra calories a day equates to one pound per week]. She suggests a 12-ounce smoothie for extra calories, or if you’re packing a lunch, a bag of pretzels.

Two to four hours pre-activity. Meyer Sterling says the sandwich is also a solid snack option after a workout.

Nutrition Totals*
Calories 895
Protein 43g
Carbohydrates 127g
Fat 24g

*For a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bagel with Muenster cheese, avocado, spinach, tomato and Dijon mustard.


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