Helpful Healthy Hints
Researchers from Harvard are hoping student athletes, and all people in general, will focus not just on the names and label of food groups, but the differences among each, and what they can and cannot do for you.
The type of carbohydrate in the diet is more important than the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, because some sources - vegetables, fruits, whole grain and beans - are healthier than others.
Pay attention to the protein package - fish, poultry, nuts, and beans are the best choices.
Eat more vegetables than fruit - go for the color - dark green, yellow, red or orange.
It is known that swimming is a “hungry sport.” Many swimmers have hefty appetites, and enjoy eating, even considering it a reward for all the hard work they do in the pool. It is also known from general research that exercising lowers appetite, and the impact can vary based on the sport, intensity and duration of workouts. The bottom line is swimmers, like other athletes, experience reduced appetite during and shortly after exercising. However, the swimmer’s appetite returns at a higher than usual level in the 2 hours after swimming.
One way to avoid becoming overly hungry (and overeating) is to make sure swimmers have a recovery snack after a hard workout. Ideally, this would be a carbohydrate and protein snack, such as 8-12 ounces of plain or chocolate milk, a cup of yogurt, 2 cheese sticks, p&j sandwich, etc…This recovery snack not only takes the edge off hunger, it helps muscles recover and prepare for the next workout.
Timing of Nutrient Intake is Important
Great emphasis has been placed on the education regarding the importance of nutrient intake but research shows that timing of nutrient intake is just as important. For instance, many swimmers do not tolerate a large meal prior to their morning practice. However, if practice is to exceed 60-90 minutes, they need adequate glycogen stores to get the maximum benefit of the workout. Therefore, many swimmers opt to consume a high-carbohydrate sports drink on their way to practice and during the swim workout to aid in restoring the depleted glycogen stores. Athletes should eat 4 equally-spaced meals with high quality protein. Why? Muscles respond better when protein is delivered throughout the day as opposed to loading up on protein at one or two meals. The amount of protein recommended is 0.25 to 0.30 grams per kilogram of body weight per meal. Athletes should also consume a bedtime snack with slightly more protein (.06 grams). Why? Research shows that protein eaten before sleep improves recovery after a hard workout. Remember, you can't live on protein alone. You need adequate energy and carbs, along with healthy fats for the best performance.
Fuel Snacks for Swimmers
Even the most organized, well-planned swimmer can put nutrition on the back burner, jeopardizing access to essential fuel sources when he needs it most. The following snacks require no refrigeration, are temperature tolerant and provide a great fuel source:
Nuts and Nut Butters – nuts provide a calorie kick and a boost of healthy fat and fiber
Dried Fruit and Fruit Puree – better than a “fruit snack,” dried fruit is a concentrated source of carbohydrate usually without added sugar.
Dry Cereal – go for small boxes or make your own baggie of dry cereal
Beef Jerky – low fat, lean meat cured into a chewy, salty, protein pick-me-up
Pretzels – all shapes and sizes
Fig Newtons -these cookies are loaded with carbohydrate and the natural fiber from figs provides the athlete with a sweet boost to the taste buds
Sandwich Crackers – go for the whole grain types with peanut butter or cheese
5 Reasons MILK is good for Swimmers
1. Milk has not one but 2 protein sources, whey and casein. Many studies have shown that the power of these 2 protein sources is superior to a single protein for simulating muscle protein repair and growth. Researchers think that not only are the proteins in milk beneficial, but that also a liquid source of protein is superior to a solid protein when it comes to muscle building.
2. Milk is rich in the amino acid leucine. It is believed that leucine is a “trigger” for muscle protein growth.
3. In addition to protein, mild contains a natural sugar, lactose. Carbohydrate plus protein has been shown to be good for endurance athletes and not just for muscle building.
4. Milk is a great source of vitamins and minerals needed by young active swimmers.
5. Fat-free milk has the same nutrients as whole 2% fat milk and flavored milk.
There are some athletes who are allergic to milk and for those swimmers, soy milk provides a good source of protein that can contribute to muscle growth but not as rapidly as dairy milk. Almond milk is not a good source of protein so athletes who like almond milk should obtain protein from other sources.
Should swimmers eat before early morning practice?
Many young swimmers make the mistake of skipping out on the early morning pre-workout meal. What they don’t realize is that these first foods set the day’s eating cycle in motion. There are 3 reasons to eat before early morning practice:
1. Prevents symptoms of low blood sugar, such as light-headedness, blurry vision and fatigue.
2. Settles the stomach, absorbing the gastric juices associated with an empty stomach and reduces hunger.
3. Offers up fuel for the muscles and brain.
Another benefit is it helps with appetite management throughout the day. What to eat depends on individual tolerance, as some swimmers do well with a liquid breakfast, while others can handle solid foods. The goal, however, is to get something nutritious in the stomach.