Use Your Loaf

For a lot of swimmers, runners and cyclists bread is what holds their lunch together. It’s an easy source of energy in readiness for exercise. It can be purchased ready-made or it can be put together for that day on-the-go.

Sandwiches come in many forms - from baguette to tortilla - and can, if put together correctly, create a meal which will provide us a daily dose of much-needed carbohydrate for energy, protein for muscle repair and vitamins to build immunity.

But ever since the Atkins Diet trumpeted the alleged benefits of cutting carbohydrates and living off protein, bread has had a bad time - but not any more it would seem.

Bread is an important source of nutrition

The scientists at the British Nutrition Foundation have found bread is an important source of nutrition. The just-published paper also dismissed warnings that white bread leads to bloating, fatigue and can spark weight gain.

Athletes have long known about the benefits of the sliced stuff. It provides essential nutrients, is satisfying and most are low in fat.

Even if you are not convinced by the boffins on the white loaves, there are still plenty of other varieties. Whole-wheat, rye and granary are made up of complex carbohydrates which break down slowly and turns into energy. They have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means that they are converted into sugar very slowly.

The best combinations are drawn from across the main food groups but there are a few factors you need to consider before loading up. If you are buying a ready-made sandwich from a shop look at the nutritional label. What’s the calorie content? What about salt? Many are loaded with sodium. You may find that prawn sandwich is really high in fat because of the mayonnaise.

Make your own sandwiches

More often that not, it’s better to make your own sandwiches. That way, you know exactly what is going into it and, let’s face it, it’s easier on the pocket.

When crafting one try different breads, see which one works best for you and try different combinations. Try granary filled with chicken, pesto and gem lettuce or a wholemeal roll generously stuffed with tuna, sliced cucumber and a smattering of mayonnaise. What about a scrambled egg with cress buttie made with rye?

For those who still want to go light, wraps or pitta are great alternatives and the choice of fillings are endless still: hummus and falafel; smoked salmon, soft cheese and salad leaves and turkey with avocado.

Supermarkets have also upped their game in catering for those with intolerances to wheat and now stock a variety of gluten-free products so any athlete can enjoy a pre or post-event sandwich or slice of toast.


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