Over 40 years of swimming excellence
Fuel for Performance
The three keys to success in any competitive sport are training, recovery, and nutrition. If you fuel your body with the right nutrition, you will be able to train harder, recover faster, and you’ll see better results from the work you put in.
The needs of a competitive swimmer are different from the average person, and from most other types of athletes. The focus should be on eating high quality carbohydrates (and a lot of them). Carbohydrates are a swimmer’s primary source of energy. Your best options before and immediately after training are simple carbohydrates, which are found in fruit, 100% fruit juice, dairy products and some grain products. During training, you’ll want carbohydrates that are easy to consume and digest, like what you can find in a sports drink. The rest of the day, keep your energy levels up with complex carbohydrates that contain some fibre, like whole grains, vegetables, some fruit, and dairy products.
In addition to carbohydrates, swimmers also need protein and healthy fats. Protein is most important immediately after training (within 30 minutes), and proteins and fats should be combined with carbohydrates at meals and snacks throughout the day. Great protein sources for swimmers include lean meat, poultry, fish, seafood, beans and lentils and dairy products. The healthiest fat options are nuts, seeds, oils (olive, coconut, flax and grapeseed), avocado and coldwater fish like salmon, trout or mackerel.
Swimmers’ energy (calorie) needs are high in the competitive season because of the volume of training. In order to keep up with these high energy needs, it’s important that you eat every 2 to 3 hours. Have your first meal or snack within an hour of waking up, and eat a snack with some protein and carbohydrate before you go to bed.
Hydration is a critical part of your nutrition plan. Swimmers should drink about 500 mL of fluid before training, 100-200 mL every 15-20 minutes during training, and another 500-1000 mL immediately after training. For training sessions longer than 30 minutes and in very hot or humid conditions, a sports drink might be better than plain water. It’s also important to keep hydrating throughout the day.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, but keep treats in check. Processed foods tend to be high in sugar, saturated/trans fats, salt, and other additives and preservatives. Indulging now and then is fine, but the majority of an athlete’s diet should be centred around whole, nutrient dense foods.
Questions about building your nutrition plan?
Contact Melinda, Registered Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Thrive Nutrition Coaching