Eat a good hearty meal
Hunger is something no person wants to bring with them to swimming. Make sure you eat at least an hour before you leave. If you normally have desert after tea and are going swimming in the evening, wait till after you have been, it will make you work harder knowing you have something to enjoy afterwards.
Nutritional advice for Swimmers and Parents/Guardians
With good nutrition the swimmer can expect a 20% improvement in their performance; minor changes make a huge difference!
The swimmer should be able to have access to quick carbohydrate snack as soon as possible after training. It is important to know what to eat on poolside, good examples include fruit bars e.g. fruit and fibre bars, nutri-grain bars; malt loaf (without butter or margarine); fig rolls; rice cakes; pancakes. All these are good sources of carbohydrate without having a high fat content.
The snack should then be followed by more food to replenish the energy stores. Foods rich in carbohydrate such as wholemeal bread, pasta, rice and potatoes are excellent. This should be combined with a source of protein but should be low in fat content. An ideal meal combination could be a jacket potato filled with tuna or baked beans or pasta without creamy sauces or anything high in fat.
Protein is important to repair muscles. It is absorbed through the small intestine and goes straight to repair damaged muscles. Swimmers need 2g/kg/day of protein, which is double the normal amount. Protein is found in meat, fish, pulses and dairy products.
As a rough guide to the amount of different types of food that should be eaten per day it may be useful to think of portions in handfuls. Carbohydrates, the main fuel of performance, should be in the region of 5-6 level handfuls each day. Fruit should be able 3-4 handfuls and vegetables 4-5 handfuls. It is recommended that the swimmer should eat 1-2 handfuls of dairy products and 3-4 palm sized handfuls of meat, fish or poultry.
Most swimmers are dehydrated. 90% of the water the body comes from liquid intake, 30% from food and 10% from other sources. During training it is important to stay hydrated, in order to do this, it is recommended to drink 1-2 litres of fluid per hour as you can lose 90% of the water in the body by sweating. Caffeinated drinks e.g. coke should be avoided as caffeine is a diuretic and it is important to watch the sugar intake. Ideal drinks include squash, fruit juice, water or sports drinks. Sports drinks are good to use when training but they should be avoided when inactive.
It is advisable to fill a 2 litre bottle with fluid at the beginning of the day and drink throughout the day, every ½ hour is ideal. This is in addition to drinks for training.
Self-check for Swimmers
Breakfast, have I:
- Had a litre of fluid?
- Had enough carbohydrate?
- Made sure my cereal was not high in sugar?
- Remembered to keep animal fats low?
During the day, have I:
- Eaten at regular intervals?
- Consumed liquid at regular intervals?
- Avoided getting too hungry?
- Snacked on high carbohydrate foods?
Evening, have I:
- Included pasta, rice or potatoes in my meal?
- Had enough protein?
- Cooked these foods appropriately?
- Included a small sweet?