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South Orlando Rowing Association

Article from US Rowing - Should Growing Rowers Eat a 4th Meal?

02/02/2016 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Should Growing Rowers Snack or Eat a 4th Meal?

by Jill Castle, MS, RDN | Feb 01, 2016


Rowing is a high calorie burning sport. In fact, along with swimming and running, rowing torches significant calories compared to most youth sports. In the adolescent growth spurt, the need for calories to assure normal growth and cover the energy needs for rowing may be quite high.

Young rowers may find it difficult to eat enough calories in the day, especially in light of school schedules before practice. Inadequate calories may lead to lackluster performance, fatigue, and even weight loss. 

Healthy snacks are certainly one strategy to help the rower achieve sufficient calories to meet his nutritional needs for growth and sport. However, a snack may not be enough. 

This is where a 4th meal can help. For some rowers, the switch to a meal mentality rather than a snack mindset may the ticket to proper fueling before exercise. 

A 4th meal is generally higher in calories due to larger portions, and the inclusion of more food groups compared to a typical snack. A 4th meal is best eaten when there’s plenty of time (an hour or more) before exercise to allow for digestion. 

Here’s a snapshot of a snack compared to a 4th meal: 

Snack Approach: a bowlful of popcorn, two granola bars, or a handful of nuts and dried fruit 

A 4th Meal Approach: leftover pasta with marinara sauce, a deli sandwich, or a loaded baked potato 

Experiment with a 4th meal to see if it does a better job at fueling the rower adequately for an intense workout, especially if “snacks” are less nutritious, growing in size, or frequency, or if the rower is complaining about frequent hunger. 

Try some of the following 4th meal ideas:

Leftovers: If you have dinner leftovers, pull them out the next day and reheat them for a hearty 4th meal. Some suggestions:

Pasta with meatballs and sauce;
Rice with beef or chicken, and vegetables:
Casserole such as lasagna, and fruit:
Pad Thai or Lo mein. 

Breakfast foods: Eggs, waffles and oatmeal are a fast and easy option as a 4th meal. Try these:

Scrambled eggs in a tortilla with cheese and salsa:
Egg sandwich with ham and cheese on an English muffin:
Sautee eggs into leftover rice and chopped vegetables for a rice dish:
Waffles layered with peanut butter, banana and a drizzle of honey; milk:
Oatmeal topped with nuts, dried fruit, and milk:

Sandwiches: When time is tight, pack a sandwich and rotate different types to keep it interesting.

Panini with mozzarella, pesto, tomato, and fruit:
Grilled cheese and tomato sandwich: 
PBJ sandwich and a banana:
Deli sub including lean meat, cheese, and veggies:

Stews and hearty soups: Especially when the chill sets in, a soup can take the edge off of the cold, and fill up a hungry belly. Here are some good options:

Chili (beef or vegetarian variety) with cornbread or other type of bread: 
Beef stew with bread or crackers:
Vegetable barley soup and peanut butter toast:
Lentil soup and bread: 

Baked potatoes: Zap these in the microwave and stuff them with lots of nutritious goodies:

Southwestern-style: Load it with cheese, salsa, guacamole and/or sour cream:
Veggie-style: Top a potato with broccoli and cheese:
Pizza-style: Crust not necessary! Add pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and chopped turkey pepperoni:

Remember, a 4th meal may do a better job at fueling a workout and improve the rower’s overall diet, while also warding off excessive hunger.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN is a registered dietitian, childhood nutritionist, and youth sports nutrition expert. She is the author of Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete. Learn more about Jill at www.JillCastle.com.

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