May Nutrition Tips:

5 Quick Nutrition Tips for Competitive Swimmers

The swimmer appetite is legendary.

It’s a byproduct of the hours and hours that we devote to swimming around the black line and for some swimmers, especially you distance folks, eating is largely a part-time job.

While eating lots of food is something we are known for (besides having the sought-after swimmers body, of course), that doesn’t mean that most of us eat as good as we can. We use those 8,000m swim workouts as an excuse to plow through a large pizza in one sitting after practice.

We know that nutrition plays a critical role in performance in the pool, just as important a factor as your sleeping habits. If you consider yourself as the finely tuned machine that you are then you know that putting low grade fuel into a high performance machine means you are short-changing your potential.

Douglas Kalman, PhD, RD, FACN, FISSN, has worked with summer and winter Olympic athletes and pro athletes in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and even combat athletes. More specific to you, the water-logged athlete, Dr. Kalman has worked two Olympics for and with swimmers (2008 & 2012) and is the sports nutritionist at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex with coach Bruno Darzi.

Below are 5 quick nutrition tips he has for competitive swimmers:

1. Eating well increases recovery.

“When looking to maximize your nutrition for performance, it is most important to think about how you can increase or enhance recovery from training,” says Dr. Kalman.

What separates fast swimmers from the “almosts” isn’t always talent or genetics; it’s how well prepared they are to train or race again. The elite know that time spent practices is where you heal and recovery in order to be ready to perform at a high level at your next workout.

“Recovery time is where your body heals and preps itself for the next event,” adds Dr. Kalman.

2. Eat like a champion to swim like one.

The swimming taper does some funny things to swimmers. Feeling light on their feet and fast in the water they think that they can treat their mouth like a dumpster.

But as Dr. Kalman notes, the couple days before the big race are when you need to be the most focused on eating well.

“What and how you eat in the 48 hours leading up to a event/competition is the most crucial for affecting performance,” he says.

3. Eat according to event type.

Your training and event type should dictate your nutrition. After all, you know that as a sprinter maybe sitting down with the distance swimmers at the buffet isn’t such a great idea.

“Your training volume dictates your carbohydrate need along with the type of event you are in (50m much different than 200m),” he notes.

4. You still need to drink lots of water.

It’s a common misconception that because we swim in a pool that we don’t need to hydrate. But we do.

Swimmers sweat, big-time. Which means that you should have a water bottle at the end of the lane waiting for you throughout your workouts.

“Hydration is often overlooked by swimmers both in their training and in competition,” sais Dr. Kalman. “This is because we often do not feel ourselves sweat when in the water.”

So how much water should we be drinking?

“Set your minimal fluid intake at 3/4 gallon for females and 1 gallon for males daily,” suggests Dr. Kalman.

5. Don’t neglect your protein.

While swimmers tend to be known as very capable of destroying vast amounts of carbs, don’t forget that you need protein to keep muscle recovery going strong.

“Protein based foods are your friends as part of recovery nutrition,” says Dr. Kalman.

“Aim for each meal and snack to contain some protein. Main meals should contain 20 to 40 grams protein per serving to optimize muscular adaptations.”

A special thank you to Dr. Kalman for stopping by to share his knowledge. You can also find him online as co-editor of the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition.

April Nutrition Tips:

How to Fuel at Competitions
By TrueSport, March 7, 2019
From all-day competitions to weekend-long tournaments, packing nutritious meals and snacks for young athletes can be tough. 
We've partnered with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ (UCCS) Food Literacy Program, The Flying Carrot, to create printable travel pack grocery lists of perishable and non-perishable foods that will help fuel your athletes for their competitions. 

Non-Perishable Foods for Swim Meets Chart

Perishable Foods for Swim Meets Chart

March Nutrition Tips:
A Guide to Nutrition for Young Swimmers
Written by Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD 
Nutrition is incredibly important for endurance and performance at swim meets. Proper nutrition keeps the kids energy and strength levels at optimum and avoids the dreaded “post meet” crash. Recovery is faster and performance is greatly enhanced. 
It is important for any athlete to consume healthy protein foods, combined with smaller amounts of carbohydrates.  Protein not only helps to build muscle, but it stabilizes our blood sugar, keeping energy and endurance steady. A carbohydrate will give an immediate rush, but within 30-60 minutes, the blood sugar will crash, resulting in cranky and irritable kids and very fatigued bodies!  It is incredibly important to incorporate good fats into the diet on a regular basis. Good fats include fish, fish oils, nuts, avocados, olive oil. These “plump” up our cells so that we can maintain a good vitamin/mineral balance and more importantly, protect against dehydration. Quick fats found in processed foods will actually slow the body down and prevent the body from working optimally during exercise. 
Water is an incredibly important part of an athlete’s diet. The general rule of thumbs is that a person should consume a MINIMUM of half their body weight in ounces daily. For example, someone who weighs 100 pounds would need to consume 50 oz of water daily just maintain healthy cell function. With vigorous exercise, this amount must be increased. For every can of soda consumed, an extra glass of water needs to be added. 
It is advised to eat a meal 2-4 hours prior to an athletic event and have a healthy, small snack 1-2 hours before the event. Always arm the child with small healthy snacks so they can quickly grab something of nutritional substance when hungry. 
Below are some suggestions on meals, sources of good proteins and tips on what to avoid. 
Healthy Protein Sources:
• Nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts – which contain high quality protein source and minerals and fats. Peanuts and Cashews are not as effective.  • Nut butters, such as almond butter. Fantastic on crackers, vegetables and a great source of high quality protein and healthy omega 3 fats.  • Lean meats, eaten in smaller quantities at one time: chicken, fish.  • Protein powders: fantastic tool for energy. Put in smoothies with fruit and blend for breakfast. Carry with you to meets and add water for a snack. Protein powders come in a variety of types. Most highly effective are rice, pea, hemp, chia powders. They also make whey and soy based powders that are great in a pinch, but can also cause inflammatory reactions in some people. Shop at health food stores for these powders, as opposed to pre-made shakes sold at large distributors that are overly processed.  • Protein bars that are whole food based – Salba bars, Vega Whole food bars, ProBar, Bora bora Bars, Mrs Mays Naturals. 
Great in between meet snacks: 
• Trail Mix – a visit to whole foods, sprouts, sunflower market has bulk selections and you can make your own mixes. Helps with variety! Don’t forget seeds, such as pumpkin seeds!  • Handful of almonds • Whole food bar  • Almond butter and jelly sandwich  • Role of non processed turkey/chicken  • Berries are GREAT! Blueberries are easy to pack and taste yummy!  • Apple/Pears/Kiwi/Mango/grapes • Protein shake  • Baby carrots/sliced jicama • Hummus with vegetables or whole grain crackers • Many kids drink Gatorade for electrolyte repletion. Another suggestion that has less sugar is a product called recharge. Or electro mix packets added to water! 
Foods to avoid in weeks leading up to events or season:  
• Heavy simple carbohydrate foods, such as large quantities of bread, pizza, pasta. Minimize consumption overall, but when eaten, choose rice based pastas, sprouted breads.  • Avoid sugary foods! Avoid High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids. Be aware of sugary drinks, such as soda, juice that is not 100% fruit.  • Avoid baked goods, such as cookies, cupcakes etc. These are not good snacks and they give a high rush of blood sugar and then bog the body down with digestion, which takes focus and energy away from winning the race!  • Chips are a very popular snack for kids because they are so readily available in vending machines, and snack bars. These provide virtually no nutrition to the body and affect endurance. Good replacements to chips are dried fruits, fruit chips, veggie chips.  • Many of the protein bars on the market are loaded with sugar and processed foods, some examples are cliff bars, power bars. See list above for good alternatives that provide more nutrition. 
Meals that assist athlete performance
Breakfast examples: 
• Oatmeal with berries and walnuts. Can add a small amount of honey or agave syrup.  • Protein smoothies: Plant based protein powder, banana, berries, tbsp. of nut butter and dash of honey. Can mix and match fruits and vegetables. Blend with organic skim milk, soy milk, almond milk (try it!), rice milk or juice.  • Nut based granola (buy or make at health food store to avoid large amounts of added sugar) with almond milk and berries. Can also mix with yogurt (consider alternates to cow based milk yogurts, such as goat yogurt, coconut yogurts. If using dairy based, consider greek yogurt or organic)  • Can add in a scrambled egg or two as a side for additional protein. Better yet, make an omelet with fresh vegetables.  • Avoid sugary cereals, heavy bread/toast/bagel consumption. 
• Most important…..DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST!!!  If running late, put protein powder in shaker cup, fill with water/juice and drink on the go! Grab an apple, banana and some nuts for protein and eat on the way!
 Lunch examples: 
• Lean meat with sprouted wheat bread, green leafy green (green/red lettuce, romaine, kale, arugula. Avoid iceberg lettuce), vegetables of choice (cucumber, tomato, onion) and some sliced avocado. If vegetarian, use tempeh or tofu as the meat. Use hummus as a protein rich spread!  • Salads! Think of interesting combinations, some great salad add-ins are dried fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, jicama, cucumber, fruits (apples, strawberries, pineapple, mango). Use a light dressing, such as a light balsamic vinigarette as opposed to heavy dressings such as ranch, thousand island etc.  • It is important to get vegetables into the diet and lunch is a great time to have a side of vegetables, such as carrots or cucumbers. Consider these easy to grab side dishes as opposed to chips and processed foods. 
Dinner examples: 
• Dinner is a good time to get in more vegetables for vitamins and minerals. Choose a protein main dish, whether it be 3-5oz of meat or vegetarian option such as lentils, tofu, tempeh and pair it with 1-2 vegetables. If you are using a carbohydrate, such as rice, bread, pasta, make that the smallest part of the meal. Focus on the nutrition first and add those as accompaniments to the main meal, not as the main meal! 
The fast food situation:
Children and Teenagers need more calories than adults, particularly if they are active. The key is to focus on the nutritional value of the food being consumed rather than counting the calories or reaching caloric goals with poorly nutrient foods. Fast food restaurants do have some healthier options if you order them in a healthy way, so in a pinch, when you have no other option, here are some tips for fast food eating:
• Get a hamburger or chicken patty without cheese or bun. Wrap it in lettuce! Opt for a side salad with a light dressing, such as vinaigrette as the side instead of French fries. Some places have fruit as a side dish, which is a nice way to get a healthy carbohydrate.  • When ordering from sandwich places, load up on the vegetables on the sandwich and get fruit on the side. Consider ordering sandwiches from a grocery store deli rather than chain store. They are just as quick, but tend to have more quality side dish options and better quality vegetables. You can also make a sandwich into a salad! • At Asian based fast food places, skip tons of sauce and get extra vegetables with the meat/tofu.  • For Mexican based fast food chains, choose the “bare” or “bowl” option. Skip the excess cheese and sour cream and have a little guacamole (avocados are good for you!). 
Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD 10505 N 69th Street, Suite 1100A, Scottsdale,  AZ  85253 (602) 845-8949 office line         1-888-523-4DOC    toll free
* Dr. Pingel is a Hubbard mom and the wife of a Hubbard instructor, Tyler Pingel.

Top End of Year Food & Nutrition Tips


By Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN  | Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Each month, USA Swimming posts an article on nutrition to encourage swimmers to eat well to move well. Let’s take an end of year review of top tips over the past months as you prepare for 2019.

1.     Protein is an important nutrient for athletes of all ages, but more isn’t better. Instead of heaping amounts of protein at dinner, try to eat protein at every meal and snack for a more even distribution to feed your muscles all day long. Vegetarian athletes don’t need more protein than meat-eaters, but quality is important, and soy protein is a vegetarian’s best bet for quality.

2.     Sandwiches are an easy, tasty vehicle for carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. Load up the veggies (peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes), pick a lean protein (chicken, turkey, roast beef, ham), and eat it on the bread of your choice. Remember, only half your grains need to be whole, so nothing wrong with wheat, white, or rye bread. Slather on healthy fats by adding avocado, hummus, or splash of olive oil.

3.     Make your snacks pull double-duty; an ideal snack is one that satisfies hunger and adds to the overall nutritional value of your diet. Good choices include walnuts, almonds, peanuts, kefir, Greek yogurt, low-fat chocolate milk, and fresh or dried fruit.

4.     Make a hydration plan for long workouts and all-day swim meets. Most athletes cannot rely on thirst to stay hydrated and dehydration is always bad: for physical health, for performance, and for motivation and clear thinking.

5.     Eat before competition, but never to the point of feeling stuffed or uncomfortable. A heavy meal takes longer to digest, and blood gets shunted to the gut for digestion instead of carrying needed oxygen and nutrients to your arms and legs.

6.     Swimmers need to be strong, yet teens have the lowest diet quality of any other group, so focus on dietary patterns, not individual foods, to promote strength. Don’t think of any one food as a superfood, but try to make food choices into a super diet by eating every 3 to 4 hours, packing snacks for pre-and post-workouts, especially if you have an early lunch period at school, and choose foods from all food groups throughout the day. Don’t limit carbohydrates, protein, or fat.

7.     Eat in the morning before practice. Even a small amount of food will help break the overnight fast and you help you get through your workout. Try liquids (smoothies, yogurt drinks, or milk) if you can’t eat solid food.

While these tips cap off 2018, they are all useful to build a solid base for 2019. Happy holidays!


Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who has provided nutrition information to coaches and athletes for over 30 years. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents, and coaches at