Nutrition is important ALL THE TIME to keep the tank full for athletic training and performance. Athletes need to EAT TO TRAIN, not train so they can eat. In general, the athlete’s diet should be composed of 60% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 25% fat. Carbohydrates are necessary as the dominant fuel in moderate and high intensity activities. Carbohydrates provide the energy to keep your engine running through those long practices and intense races! Protein is not an energy source, but it is important because it builds and repairs muscles, produces hormones, supports the immune system, and replaces red blood cells. Fat plays a critical role in the overall functioning of the body; it aids in digestion and energy metabolism, helps maintain body temperature, and plays a part in regulating hormone production.
In order to maintain optimal training and performance energy levels, it is important that athletes eat early and often! Athletes should have a carbohydrate snack before morning workouts -- even if a small amount. (While some don’t like to eat early in the morning, you can train your body to begin accepting food.) You should never go 3 or 4 hours without a snack during the day. It is better for swimmers to eat 6-8 times a day rather than just three meals a day. Athletes MUST have a carbohydrate snack immediately after practice. For proper muscle repair to begin, you have about a 30 minutes window to get some food in after practice. Within 1-2 hours of practice, swimmers should have a full meal. Without adequate fuel, swimmers will become fatigued and are more prone to injury as they are not helping their muscles recover.
Some excellent choices for your post-workout recovery snack might include chocolate milk, power bars, yogurt, bagels with peanut butter, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The more you weigh, the larger your snack should be. For instance if you weigh 120 pounds, 1.5 power bars may be sufficient, but if you weigh 175, then you might need 1 cup of chocolate milk and a bagel with peanut butter.
Not only is getting adequate food important during regular training, it is also critical during meets to maintain peak performance. After racing, swimmers need to replenish fluids and eat a small snack. Sometimes a swimmer won’t have quite enough time to warm down after a race and eating some food to help the recovery process along is just plain smart. Stuck at a summer league meet with no warm down at all? Keep moving around and eat a few peanut butter crackers before your next race!
Check out USA Swimming’s nutrition tracker on the web to be sure you’re getting enough! As we head outdoors into the 50 meter pool in just a few days, training demands will become greater and swimmers are likely to need more calories to sustain successful training.
By Lisa Liston, Lynchburg YMCA Swim Team
Grabbing chocolate milk after a hard swim could give swimmers a performance edge, according to new research presented at one of the nation’s top sports medicine conferences – the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual conference. In a sport where seconds and even tenths of a second can make a big difference and intense practice routines are the norm, Indiana University researchers found that when collegiate, trained swimmers recovered with chocolate milk after an exhaustive swim, they swam faster in time trials later that same day. On average, they shaved off 2.1 seconds per 200 yard swim, and 0.5 seconds per 75 yard sprint, compared to when they recovered with a traditional carbohydrate sports drink or calorie-free beverage.
“Chocolate milk is an ideal recovery drink. It’s a ‘real food,’ has the right carb to protein ratio athletes need and it’s less expensive than many alternatives,” said Joel Stager, PhD, lead researcher at Indiana University. “From cyclists to runners to soccer players, there’s a strong body of research supporting the benefits of recovering with chocolate milk. Now, our research suggests these same benefits extend to swimmers – a sport that relies on quick recovery for multiple races within a single day.”
The study is the first to test the benefits of chocolate milk in swimmers, and included six division one collegiate swimmers performing a muscle fuel (glycogen)-depleting swim bout of 60 x 100 yards followed by five hours of recovery for three consecutive weeks. The athletes then recovered with one of three randomized beverages –reduced fat chocolate milk, commercial carbohydrate sports drink (with the same calories as the chocolate milk), or calorie-free beverage – immediately and two hours after the swim. Following the five-hour recovery period, three swim performance test sets were completed relying on aerobic (200 yards), anaerobic (75 yard sprint) and immediate energy metabolism (10 meters against resistance). While there were no differences in the immediate energy metabolism swims, there were significant differences in the aerobic and anaerobic swims – indicating better recovery after drinking chocolate milk.
ELITE SWIMMERS TRUST CHOCOLATE MILK
Elite athletes, coaches and serious exercisers have long recognized the benefits of lowfat chocolate milk. The beverage has been a staple on the training menu of swimmers for years – and the proof is in the pool.
“Our athletes know that chocolate milk makes a difference – it’s long been a part of many elite swimmers’ recovery routines,” said Frank Busch, National Team Director of USA Swimming, the national governing body of competitive swimming in the U.S. “These findings are so significant for our athletes. Fractions of a second can decide a win or a loss in competition – so chocolate milk will likely be even more prominent on our athletes’ training tables as they gear up for Rio.”
With more than 20 studies supporting the benefits of recovering with the high-quality protein and nutrients in chocolate milk after a tough workout, this research is the first of its kind in swimmers, and adds to a growing body of evidence that supports the advantages of drinking chocolate milk after strenuous exercise. Chocolate milk has high-quality protein to build lean muscle, it has the right mix of protein and carbs to refuel exhausted muscles, plus it has fluids and electrolytes to help replenish the body.
For more on the science behind the recovery benefits of lowfat chocolate milk and to check out exclusive training tips and videos, log onto gotchocolatemilk.com, or join the conversation on Facebook/gotchocolatemilk, Twitter @gotchocomilk and Instagram @gotchocolatemilk.
The USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Committee has recently reviewed the risks and benefits related to energy drinks and is providing information to call attention to the differences between energy drinks and "sports drinks" used for rehydration, to point out the risks associated with such drinks, and to provide suggested alternatives to use of these drinks.
By Jill Castle, MS, RD
Red Bull, Rock Star, Amp, Monster Energy—enticing labels for a tired and thirsty swimmer. Energy drinks are one of the fastest growing segments of drink sales in America and their popularity is growing, especially among youth. Athletes use energy drinks to rehydrate after a workout, boost attention and focus during school, “wake up,” or as a routine beverage at meals. Don’t be misled by something that sounds too good to be true—while an all-in-one drink is tempting, it carries some serious considerations for young athletes. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children and teens should avoid energy drinks.
Confusion exists about the difference between a sports drink and an energy drink, so let’s clear this up. A sports drink contains a small amount of carbohydrate, minerals, electrolytes and flavorings and is designed to replace those nutrients lost through sweating after exercise. Gatorade is an example of a sports drink.
Energy drinks contain stimulants including caffeine, guarana and yerba mate (herbal stimulants) and taurine (an amino acid). Ginseng, if present, enhances the effects of caffeine. Other elements may be added to energy drinks, but their benefits, safety and side effects are questionable.
An average energy drink contains 70-200 mg caffeine per 16 ounces. Some energy drinks can contain up to 500 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 cans of soda. For children and teens, caffeine consumption should be limited to 1.25 mg per pound of body weight (for a 100-pound swimmer that’s 125 mg caffeine per day). More than 100 mg of caffeine per day in adolescents has been associated with higher blood pressures.
Growing children and teens should avoid excess caffeine consumption. Excess consumption of caffeine is associated with agitation, anxiety, poor sleep, rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and altered mental states.
Too much caffeine can mask fatigue. Gauging fatigue is important to staying fit, healthy and in the pool. If jacked up on caffeine, swimmers may miss the body’s signal for rest.
Caffeine can alter mood and behavior, resulting in physical dependence or addiction. How do you know if you’re a caffeine-addict? Without caffeine, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, tiredness, depressed mood and nausea.
If that’s not enough to make you re-think your drink, here’s some more food for thought:
Energy drinks contain sugar—up to 30 grams per cup (almost ¼ cup of sugar). Limiting sugar consumption is a healthy practice, for any growing child and teen, whether an athlete or not.
Energy drinks are dehydrating. Due to the concentration of caffeine, energy drinks encourage frequent urination, and energy drinks with higher sugar content can compound the dehydrating effects of caffeine.
Feeling tired, losing focus and struggling with low energy? Rethink your nutrition, hydration and sleep program. No magic bullet replaces a nutritious diet of real, wholesome food, adequate water and other healthy liquids, or a good night’s sleep. And that’s no (red) bull.
Jill Castle is a registered dietitian and child nutrition expert. She is the owner of Pediatric Nutrition of Green Hills and creator of Just The Right Byte, a child and family nutrition blog. Jill lives with her husband and four children (one swimmer!) in Nashville, Tenn.
Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don't need them - and some of these products contain substances that could be harmful to children.
In a new clinical report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines how these products are being misused, discusses their ingredients, and provides guidance to decrease or eliminate consumption by children and adolescents. The report, Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate? is published in the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 30).
"There is a lot of confusion about sports drinks and energy drinks, and adolescents are often unaware of the differences in these products," said Marcie Beth Schneider, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Nutrition and co-author of the report. "Some kids are drinking energy drinks - containing large amounts of caffeine - when their goal is simply to rehydrate after exercise. This means they are ingesting large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants, which can be dangerous."
Sports drinks and energy drinks are different products, said Holly J. Benjamin, MD, FAAP, a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, and a co-author of the report. Sports drinks, which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and flavoring, are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. Sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but in most cases they are unnecessary on the sports field or the school lunchroom.
"For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best," Dr. Benjamin said. "Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don't need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It's better for children to drink water during and after exercise, and to have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals. Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals."
Energy drinks contain substances not found in sports drinks that act as stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana and taurine. Caffeine - by far the most popular stimulant - has been linked to a number of harmful health effects in children, including effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. Energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents, said Dr. Schneider and Dr. Benjamin. In general, caffeine-containing beverages, including soda, should be avoided.
The report contains tables listing specific products available today and their contents.
"In many cases, it's hard to tell how much caffeine is in a product by looking at the label," Dr. Schneider said. "Some cans or bottles of energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda."
AAP recommendations include:
Pediatricians should highlight the difference between sports drinks and energy drinks with patients and their parents, and talk about the potential health risks.
Energy drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain, and should never be consumed by children or adolescents.
Routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted, because they can increase the risk of overweight and obesity, as well as dental erosion.
Sports drinks have a limited function for pediatric athletes; they should be ingested when there is a need for rapid replenishment of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes in combination with water during prolonged, vigorous physical activity.
Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents.