Nutrition 101: What do parents want to know about fueling for performance?

Nutrition 101: What do parents want to know about fueling for performance?

Since parents are normally responsible for the food that swimmers eat, it's important that they have good nutritional information.

What should my child eat before meets and practices?

The best pre-meet (and pre-practice) meal should contain mostly carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, breads and cereal are easy for athletes to digest and absorb.  A handy rule of thumb: One to four hours before exercise, consume 0.5 to 2.0 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight.

Should my child eat before morning practice?

 It's crucial for swimmers to eat before morning practice. Remind swimmers of the analogy of the empty gas tank. If they haven't eaten since the previous evening, the gas tank is empty and there is no fuel to produce energy for competition or training. for more information click this LINK.

What should my child eat after practice?

 It's important to consume some carbohydrate fuel for recovery immediately after workout rather than waiting until the next full meal. The meals that provide 100 grams of carbohydrate are a good starting point. Here are a few examples of meals that provide 100 grams of carbohydrates:

 • 1 bagel with peanut butter and 2/3 cup of raisins  

• 1 cup of low-fat yogurt, 1 banana and 1 cup of orange juice

• 1 turkey sandwich with 1 cup of applesauce  

• 8 oz. of skim milk, 1 apple, 1 orange, 2 slices of bread and 3 pancakes

• 1 serving of sports drink and 1 bagel

What about protein and fat?

Protein builds and repairs muscle, produces hormones, supports the immune system and replaces red blood cells. Protein is not a main source of energy except in cases of malnutrition or starvation. Most athletes do not need extra protein. They get adequate protein from a normal diet. Again contrary to popular opinion, protein does not build muscle bulk, only exercise does that. Fats are essential for hormone production, storage of vitamins and delivery of essential fatty acids. The body needs fat, but the average American diet contains more than enough. High fat foods should be traded for low fat substitutes so that fat intake is limited to 25% of total calories.

What do parents and swimmers need to know about energy drinks?

•         Advertisements, images and slogans convince consumers to buy the product.

•         Most energy drinks contain ingredients that are not strictly regulated, have little or no nutritional value, and can be potentially harmful.

•         The amount of caffeine and other stimulants in energy drinks can also be a cause for alarm.

The best piece of advice is this: the energy needed to sustain long training schedules and other daily activities is not going to be found in a can, a bar or a bottle.  There's only one reliable way to maximize peak performance: evaluate and modify your dietary intake to make sure you're meeting your body's nutritional requirements and level of energy output. 

Have a year of health, prosperity and swimming!,