April 16, 2014
Downsize the portions. During the off-season,
calorie needs are not as high as when you are in the pool for hours
each day. Off-season is a good time to learn the difference between
a portion and a serving. A portion is what you choose to eat (for
example, the entire box of Wheat Thins) versus a serving (about 15
crackers). The calorie difference is about 1120 calories! Young
athletes may need more than a serving, but by paying attention to
the calories in a serving, you will learn how to balance calories
to match activity. No need to hunt through the kitchen for
measuring cups when you can use visual cues to judge serving sizes.
Your fist is about the size of a cup of pasta, a baseball is the
right size for a baked potato serving, visualize a large egg for a
serving of ¼ cup of trail mix, and a 2-Tablespoon serving of
peanut butter is the size of ping pong ball. For more serving size
comparisons see the card that you can download at:
Ditch the extra snacks. If you are not swimming hard every day, you don’t need the recovery snacks. Energy bars, granola bars, trail mix and chocolate milk are all great recovery snacks to help you replace fuel used in a workout. It is especially important to eat after working out if you are going to swim the next day. But, if during the off-season, your only activity is school, then you don’t need to continue to snack on high-calorie foods. Snacking is great for kids, just stick to fruit, yogurt, or veggies and dip when you don’t need the extra calories.
Deliver good nutrition. Off-season, even if just for a month, is a good time rest and recover. Eating well during this time can help your body repair and rebuild from hard training. Try to eat healthy foods for breakfast lunch, and dinner by eating more vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, quality carbohydrates and healthy fats at every meal. The sports dietitians for the US Olympic Committee have developed some good tools to help you eat well. Check out the athlete’s plate for “easy” days and try to model your meals on what elite athletes eat.