Nampa Swim Team recently invited sports dietitian, Clare Zamzow, to talk to our athletes about nutrition and the role it plays with performance.  Clare Zamzow presented some great information to our athletes and provided some great hands-on tools for learning how nutrition can impact swimming. Below is a summary of the information presented.
Fueling for Swimming
Food is your FUEL. If you do not eat, your body will not be able to create the energy needed to do physical activity.
Event Day Fueling Plan
  1. Everyday (not just on event days) eat an adequate breakfast, lunch, and dinner; include small snacks in-between meals.
  2. Drink fluids throughout the day (Volume needed varies from person to person based on body size, sweat rate and intensity of activity). Water is fine! On multi-event days (i.e. meet where you swim more than once over the course of the day), sipping on a sports drink/juice can help provide some carbohydrate if you have a nervouse stomach and would rather drink a “snack” than eat one. Generally, aim to get in AT LEAST 6-8+ cups/48-64oz of fluid throughout the day.
  3. Eat a light meal and/or smaller snacks in a 1-4 hour window before an activity.
    • Include carbohydrates (e.g. bread, tortillas, rice, pasta, fruit, potatoes, corn, milk, yogurt)
    • Include a moderate to light amount of protein (e.g. lean meats – 2-3oz of chicken, turkey, lean cuts of pork or beef, 1oz cheese, ½ handful-size of nuts or seeds)
    • Choose lower fat items; avoid fried foods, fatty/greasy meats, large portions of cheese and milk, cream sauces
    • Include lower fiber items; avoid large portions of raw fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains (small portions are ok!)
    • In lieu of a meal, a small snack(s) can be consumed one to two hours before the activity (e.g. piece of fruit and cheese stick, granola bar and ~ 12oz sports drink)
  4. After the event eat a snack within 30 minutes and a meal within two hours.
    • Snack – Carbohydrate and protein combination (e.g. ~ 2 Tbs peanut butter and a banana, ~ 12oz sports drink and handful of almonds, or carton of Greek yogurt)
  5. On multi-event days, try to eat as soon as possible following the first event.
    • Eat meal that's higher in [safe]* carbohydrate and lower in fat, fiber, and protein.
    • Eating smaller snacks instead of a “meal” may be better tolerated.
Pre-event Meal Ideas (eat three to four hours before the event)
  1. Shredded chicken or other lean meat in the crockpot + rolls + piece of fruit + small cookie (can save for closer to event time).
  2. Sandwich bar with bread, assorted deli meats (turkey, chicken, lean roast beef, and ham) + lettuce, tomato, pickles + sliced fruit + pretzels (can save for closer to event time).
  3. Pasta salad with diced chicken, vegetables, and cubed cheese tossed in a light vinaigrette + piece of fruit + small granola bar (can save to closer to event time).
  4. Shredded chicken or pork + tortilla + tomatoes and lettuce + shredded cheese + baked/non-greasy tortilla chips + sliced fruit (can save to closer to event time).
Pre-event Meal Ideas (eat one to two hours before the event in place of or in addition to a meal)
  1. Handful Cheerios + half bagel + 1 cup cantaloupe chunks
  2. ½ cup oatmeal + 1 cup fruit + handful crackers
  3. 1-2 slices bread + 1 spoonful peanut butter + 1 spoonful honey + ~1/2 cup yogurt
*Safe Foods: fruit (canned is ok!), applesauce, dried fruit (handful), breakfast cereal, cream of wheat, plain crackers, pretzels, white breads, small granola bars, sports drinks/juice, honey, jam
Post-event Snack Ideas (eat within 30 minutes of finishing)
  1. Cheese stick + piece of fruit
  2. 2 spoonfuls peanut butter + piece of fruit
  3. 8 oz chocolate milk
  4. 5-8 oz container Greek yogurt
  5. Half a bagel + 1 spoonful peanut butter or 1 slice of cheese
  6. Handful of pretzels + handful nuts and raisins
Post-event Meal Ideas (eat ~ 2 hours after finishing)
  1. Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables each week, try to have at least 4-5 different vegetables in your “rotation”. Below are some nutrient powerhouse fruits and vegetables:
    • Leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach)
    • Bell peppers
    • Beets
    • Avocados
    • Citrus (e.g. oranges, grapefruit, lemons)
    • Kiwi
    • Watermelon
  2. Choose a variety of whole grains:
    • Brown rice
    • Whole grain pasta
    • Quinoa
    • Potatoes and butternut squash (these count as “grain” on the plate)
  3. Choose lean cuts of meat or plant based proteins
    • Fish
    • Chicken
    • Turkey
    • Pork loin or chop
    • Beef round sirloin, ≥ 93% lean
    • Beans or Lentils (Are also a good source of carbohydrate)
    • Nuts and seeds
  4. Limit nutrient poor foods, e.g. processed meats (bacon, sasage, hotdogs), processed grains (white breads, pasta/rice dishes from a box), heavy fats (creams, large portions of cheese, deep fried foods), and added sugars (packaged cookies/muffins, packaged foods with ≥ 8 grams added sugar per serving).
Excellent websites for sports nutrition info:

Q&A with the Athletes

Q: Ideas for school lunches.


  1. Tuna salad + crackers (I like Triscuits) + fruit + cherry tomatoes, carrots, or celery
  2. Peanut butter w/raisins on celery + sliced apple w/cheese slices + crackers or pretzels
  3. Baked or roasted sweet potato (maybe leftover from dinner the night before) tossed w/some salad stuff like spinach, tomatoes, cubed cheese topped w/oil & vinegar + fruit + granola bar
  4. Cheese + crackers + applesauce + sliced bell peppers, carrots, or cherry tomatoes (or other vegetable) + granola bar
  5. Plain yogurt + granola + berries (like frozen blueberries that have thawed out) + sliced bell peppers, carrots, or cherry tomatoes (or other vegetable)

*Make the portion sizes of the above food to fit the appetite/needs of the athlete. For non-perisable options, beef or turkey jerky and the tuna-lunch packs are other things that can be included.

Q: Are there food requirements for certain age groups?

A: Yes, though they are general recommendations and not designed for the athlete. They are a good guide but they shouldn't necessarily be followed exactly. Click on the food groups listed on the left side of the Choose My Plate webpage. A table is provided for each food group that lists recommended daily servings for each age group.

Q: Why is artificial sugar any different from normal cane sugar?

A: Artificial sugar does NOT provide any energy (it doesn't have any calories), while cane sugar does provide energy. Artificial sugar also tastes sweeter than cane sugar. For some people, like someone with diabetes, artificial sugar can be helpful to use when sweetening foods like oatmeal, plain yogurt, or some food that you want to taste a little sweeter. Artificial sugar is also what is used in "diet" drinks (Diet Pepsi, Diet Sprite, Crystal Light Lemonades). For most people, I recommend avoiding artificial sugar and eating real sugar because it tastes better and you should enjoy something sweet if you want it. You will feel more satisfied after eating the real sugar.

Q: Are gummy bears good for you?

A: Gummy bears are ok as a quick energy snack, however, I would definitely suggest applesauce, juice or some dried fruit before gummy bears!