Loving the BITE: A Tuna Melt Recovery


A game of cycling nutrition “Would You Rather.” Would you rather recover with a sugar-and-whey powdered drink OR a hot, cheesey, melty, delicious tuna melt?

I know I’d rather the tuna melt.  Of course, there are lots of options when it comes to nutrition recovery after a hard ride.  We’ve highlighted many good options.  And, more and more, athletes are demanding real food.  Down with the chemical junk, and up with the foods from the earth and the sea.  This week, we’ll discuss how tuna melts are a great answer for glycogen recovery, muscle sparing, electrolyte balance, and oh yeah…flavor.

Recipe of the week: World’s Best Tuna Melt


  • 1 (5-6 ounce) can tuna in water, drained
  • 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped celery
  • 2 tsp finely chopped onion
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 slice seedless rye bread
  • 2 slices ripe tomato
  • 2 thin slices Swiss cheese (or chedder, mozzarella, etc)
  •  paprika, for garnish
  • 1 serving fruit on the side (apple, berries, etc)


  1. Preheat the oven broiler.
  2. In a bowl, mix the tuna and next 5 ingredients (through vinegar). Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the rye bread slice on a baking sheet, and broil 1 minute in the preheated oven, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and spread with the tuna salad. Place 1 cheese slice over the tuna salad on each piece of bread, layer with a tomato slice, and top with remaining cheese slice and then tomato.
  4. Return layered bread to the preheated oven, and broil 3 to 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Serve fruit on the side.


With less daylight this time of year, many cyclists take to training during the lunch hour.  After a hard ride, why not combine lunch and recovery as a protein powerhouse meal?  If you choose our tuna melt within 30 minutes of finishing your ride, you’ll get:

Almost 40 grams of protein.  Wow! Protein is only half the story in recovery, but it’s an important half.  Eating protein, especially a high quality one like tuna allows your muscle to retain their mass.  Since your body doesn’t have to break muscles down for needed amino acids and calories while you’re consuming protein, muscles mass is spared, rebuild, repaired, and increases.

The other important aspect of recovery is carbohydrates.  It’s these nutrients that replenish muscle glycogen stores and allow you to maintain good energy levels throughout the day and into your next workout.  Our Tuna Melt Lunch provides needed carbohydrates in whole grain bread, tomatoes, and fruit.  Furthermore, as you supply your body with the efficient-energy carbohydrate calories it needs after training (your body continues to burn extra calories), it can continue to spare muscle.

Healthy fats are a key to overall health, hormone balance, and a reduction in inflammation.  They are often overlooked in recovery since it might be difficult to add fish oil to a recovery drink or bar…but, they are vitally important and are valuable in reducing inflammation after an intense ride.  So, why not add ’em in right away?  The World’s Best Tuna Melt provides over 450 mg of the most important omega-3s, DHA and EPA.

The extras.  To put your recovery over-the-top, this Tuna Melt recovery also supplies antioxidants (vegetables and fruits expecially) that neutralize damaging post-ride free radicals and electrolytes including potassium, sodium, and calcium.

Tuna’s a wonderful option, but of course, there is drawback to keep in mind: mercury.  Like many products of our polluted planet, the key is to limit your intake, as the benefits of eating high omega-3 foods generally outweigh the risks as long as you’re not consuming too much.  I recommend choosing “chunk light tuna” (not albacore) and keeping tuna intake to just 2 (6 oz.) servings per week (no more than 6 oz. per week total for any pregnant cyclists).  If you’re able to verify that your tuna comes from the Pacific rather than the Atlantic ocean, mercury intake will likely be less…however, this sort of information can be hard to verify.

There’s usually room for improvement at lunch.  Here’s a great option for a lunch hour ride recovery.  If you’re worried about stinkin’ up the office, simply explain that you’re doing so in the name of health and stamina.  Tell ’em that you need the protein, carbs, and omega-3s.  Tell ’em that they need them too.  Then, reap the rewards of consistent recovery and reduced inflammation by pushing your limits on your next ride.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.


Enjoy Your Ride

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4 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: A Tuna Melt Recovery ”

  1. Marina on November 14, 2012 at 12:57 am

    Sorry but I prefer to use Hemp Force protein powder and include a good heaped tablespoon of organic hulled hemp seeds and frozen berries for addedd flavour and goodness.

    • Kelli Jennings on November 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Sounds great! There’s lots of recovery options and individual preferences – we’ve also discussed whole food smoothies, homemade chocolate milk, avocado chocolate pudding, and more in previous posts on recovery. The keys for recovery are carbs, protein, antioxidants, and fluids quickly after training – looks like you’re doing a good job! Thanks and take care!

  2. Trent on November 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I much prefer real food over powders and shakes so I like the idea of this one. I’m ready to go off for a hard ride just so I can try this one out.

    • Kelli Jennings on November 8, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Sounds great, Trent! I hope you enjoy it and have light, recovered legs tonight and tomorrow!


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Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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