Swim Practice Hydration and Nutrition Guidelines




1. Drink lots of water throughout the day! 2.5 – 4.5 Litres of water per day is recommended.

2. Water bottles at practice are Mandatory. It is important to remain hydrated throughout practice.

3. Aim to drink at least one bottle of water within the hour before practice, one during practice,and one within the hour after practice.

4. Avoid beverages with high amounts of caffeine and sugar as they can promote dehydration.

5. Mixing Gatorade or juice with your water during the second hour of training can be beneficial to maintain electrolyte and fuel levels during the latter half of practice.

6. Drinking or eating a carbohydrate, protein, and salt filled beverage or snack, in addition to your water, immediately (within the first 20-30 minutes) after practice can significantly increase recovery and performance in the next practice/event. Chocolate/regular milk, Gatorade or fruit juice, cheese and crackers, banana/apple and nut butter, yogurt, orange/apple juice (or an orange/apple) with cheese or nuts, or your favourite fruit & veggie smoothie are good choices.

7. Meal replacement shakes, protein powder, and protein bars are easy and can aid recovery but they can be expensive and I am a believer that getting your nutrients naturally is best whenever possible.

8. Eat a healthy snack 1-2 hours before practice (banana, apple, nut butter sandwich, hummus & crackers, etc.)

9. Minimize dairy, and high fat consumption within a few hours of practice as it may cause stomach discomfort.

10. Listen to your body: If you feel tired, thirsty, hungry, sick to your stomach, have a headache,etc. during or after practice then think about what you had to eat and drink during the day and adjust it accordingly for the next practice.

11. Key note: Come to practice hydrated and fueled, try to maintain hydration levels (and electrolyte and fuel levels when necessary) during practice, and rehydrate and refuel after practice. If you have any questions or concerns I am happy to meet before or after practice to answer any questions or concerns you may have.


Example of good nutrition/hydration around practice.

Approximately 3 hours before practice - eat a full meal

1-2 hours before practice - eat nut butter (peanut, almond, sesame, etc.) and banana on a whole grain wrap/bread (add a dash of honey if desired). Begin to drink pre-workout bottle of water (0.5 L – 1.0 L bottle).

Beginning of practice - begin to sip on practice bottle of water (0.5 L – 1.0 L)

1 hour into practice – continue sipping on water (add more water and some Gatorade/juice if feeling dehydrated, under-fueled, or cramping)

After practice/before dryland – begin drinking post-workout water bottle (0.5 L – 1.0 L) and eat a granola bar/apple. Eat a full meal.



General Hydration and Nutrition Guidelines

1. Drink fluids constantly throughout the day. Water should be your primary drink, but mixing in fruit juices, milk, and the occasional sport drink helps provide hydration, electrolytes, and good fuel.

2. Eat Lots of fruits and vegetables! Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients and phytochemicals which help keep you healthy and facilitate optimal bodily functions. They also provide fiber which aids in digestion and maintaining healthy bowels. Fruits and starchy vegetables are great sources of natural sugars for energy (Fruits tend to have more simple sugars and get into the system faster, while starchy vegetables tend to have more complex sugars which provide a slower release into the bloodstream). Many fruits and vegetables also contain higher levels of potassium which can be very beneficial for preventing cramps.

3. Prefer whole grains over highly refined grains. For example, choose whole wheat pasta and bread over refined pasta and white bread when possible. Whole grains generally require more digesting which facilitates a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream which results in a more steady level of energy instead of a quick spike and crash. Grains (as well as starchy vegetables) provide the carbohydrates that are used for fuel.

4. Mix up your protein source. Prefer lean chicken/turkey breast, fish, and red meats. Try to keep the amount of red meat consumed to a maximum of 1-2 meals per week. Adding on non-meat protein sources is very healthful. Mixing a variety of beans/nuts/seeds with your different grains can provide all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts. Examples are peanut butter on whole wheat bread, rice and black beans, hummus and crackers, beans on toast, bean and rice chilli, etc. Mixing in quinoa and other grains can also be very nutritious and tasteful. Animal products such as eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, cheese, etc. are also great sources of protein.

5. Fats are very important in our diet as they help to rebuild cell membranes and they can also be used for energy. The trick is to have them in moderation and to favour certain types of fats over others. Trans-fats should be completely eliminated. Saturated fat (solid fats found in animal products) should be eaten in moderation. Unsaturated fats (liquid at room temperature) from sources like olives, fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Mixing olive oil and balsamic vinegar is great on salads or for dipping bread.

6. Minimize caffeinated and high sugar beverages.

7. Your meals should be primarily comprised of fruits and vegetables (45% or more), followed by whole grains (30% or more), then about 10-15% of meats and alternatives and about 10-15% dairy products.

8. Aim to eat 3 full meals per day with 1-2 snacks throughout the day as needed.

9. Eating balanced (All 4 food groups in proper proportions at each meal) and as natural (minimal processed and packaged foods) as possible is favourable.

10. Listen to your body: Eat when you are hungry, identify foods that best satisfy your hunger, notice foods that make you feel good afterwards (not just taste good at the time).

11. Key take home message: Drink lots of fluids; eat a variety of foods; favour fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; eat a variety of protein sources with fish, nuts, seeds, beans, and lean meats being preferred; avoid processed and packaged foods, and adjust your proportions and meal timing to your individual preference.



Example of daily meal plan

(Excluding 2.5 L – 4.5 L of water and practice snacks)

Breakfast: A 1⁄2 cup of oatmeal, 2 handfuls of berries or raisins or a cut up apple or a banana, a handful of walnuts (or choice of other nut/seed), a dash of cinnamon, and a glass of milk

Snack: Two handfuls of grapes, a handful of crackers and some hummus (hummus and flatbread dip is available in a portioned package at Metro)

Lunch: Tuna sandwich (Two slices of bread, 1/3 can of tuna and a table spoon of mayo, a dash of pepper, and lettuce), 2-3 handfuls of raw veggies (with or without dip), and a glass of orange juice

Snack: A banana

Dinner: Chicken, rice and veggie stir fry (1/2 a chicken breast grilled and cut, 2-3 handfuls of veggies pan fried (broccoli, bell peppers, onions, carrots), 1/2 cup of brown rice (before boiling)). Garden salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing). A glass of milk.


Meet Hydration and Nutrition Guidelines

1. Bring lots of fluids (Water, Gatorade, juice, etc.).

2. Bring healthy, primarily high carbohydrate, snacks (dried or fresh fruit, aero root crackers, granola bars, etc.), but include variety of foods.

3. Eating small amounts of these snacks about 30 minutes before a race and immediately after each race will help with maximize performances.

4. For longer sessions sandwiches or wraps are good to provide more substantial fuel.

5. Try to eat a meal 2-3 hours before the beginning of a meet. Have this meal be balanced but not too heavy as it is difficult to race on a full stomach.

6. Drink extra fluids the day before a race to ensure hydration on race day.

7. Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages within 48 hours of competition.

8. Be sure to eat a large and healthy meal the night before a race.

9. Otherwise do not change eating habits drastically within a couple days of racing.

10. Key Notes: Fuel up and hydrate the night before a competition; stay hydrated throughout the competition day; Don’t eat a large meal within 2 hours of racing; have a small carb reload half an hour before racing; replenish fuel after each race.


Suggested reference:

General guidelines: http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/tips- conseils/interactive-tools-outils-interactifs/eat-well-bien-manger-eng.php

Practice Guidelines: http://www.vancouverpacificswimclub.com/cavpsc/UserFiles/Image/Parents%20Info/Nutritional%20Informa tion%20/NutritionforParentsSwimmers.pdf

Practice and Competition Guidelines: http://www.coach.ca/competition-nutrition-p154672

Meet Guidelines: http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsArticle.aspx?TabId=1&itemid=3748&mid=8712

Please contact me at headcoach@riverotters.ca if you have any questions or would like further information.