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WEDNESDAY WISDOM

Deli Meats Such as Beef Are Rich in Protein and Nutrients

By Chris Rosenbloom//RD, Sports Nutritionist  | Monday, March 9, 2020

March is National Nutrition Month, but I bet you didn’t know it is also National Deli Meat Month.

OK, I can hear you asking, “How can deli meats be a healthy choice for swimmers?”

One of the biggest obstacles to healthy eating for busy athletes and their parents is time: time to shop, time to cook, and time to eat. Enter deli meats. They are convenient, pre-cooked, and packed with protein. There are many options at the deli counter that are low in fat, low in sodium, and even some that are American Heart Association certified. In addition, some selections are organic and grass-fed.

For swimmers, I suggest focusing on the beef options like roast beef, London broil, top round, eye of round, or pastrami. A 3-ounce serving of roast beef has 21 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat. Twenty grams of protein is recommended as a recovery dose after a hard workout, so a roast beef sandwich is a tasty way to get replenishing protein. Beef is nutrient-rich, containing the minerals iron and zinc in a more bioavailable form than is found in vegetables, grains, or beans. Beef is also a good source of vitamin B12, needed for making healthy red blood cells and nerve cells.

Here are some easy and quick ways for using this prepared meat to boost good nutrition:

  • Slice London broil over a green salad for a change of pace from chicken Caesar salad.
  • Warm roast beef in the microwave and serve over a thick slice of crusty bread with beef broth for a quick Roast Beef Au Jus sandwich.
  • Slice roast beef into strips and stir fry with veggies, such as asparagus, green beans, snap pea pods, edamame, carrots, onions, or peppers. Serve with steamed brown or white rice.
  • Make a classic pastrami sandwich served on rye bread with a big dill pickle. (It will help to replace sodium lost in practice or competition).
  • Simmer roast beef slices in barbeque sauce and serve on your favorite sandwich bun.
  • Add to noodle bowls for an Asian inspired beef meal.
  • Impress your teammates with a Charcuterie board. That is French for the appetizer course, and it features a platter with cooked meat, sausages, cheeses, dried fruit, veggies, nuts, olives, and crusty slices of bread.
  • For a novel idea, consider making beefshi. You read that right; beefshi is a take on sushi using prepared deli meats. Try the recipes found at beefshi.com. My favorites for swimmers are the Sunday Supper Sushi, The Texan Roll, and the Reuben Roll. The website has videos showing you how to make beefshi!

Disclosure: I was at a sponsored conference that served beefshi at lunch, but I was not asked to write about it or paid to do so.

Christine Rosenbloom is a registered dietitian, sports nutritionists, and nutrition professor emerita at Georgia State University. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents and coaches at chrisrosenbloom@gmail.com.