Swimming, like all physical fitness, is extremely valuable to our overall health. Unfortunately, many people who extend most of their focus to physical health tend to ignore the nutritional necessities that coincide with any physical activity. Swimming expels a lot of energy and, especially for young and developing swimmers, it can result in extreme fatigue without the proper nutrition.
Best Foods for Swimmers
Depending on your age and speed, the average swimmer burns roughly between 300-600 calories per hour of swimming. It is important for athletes, weekend warriors, as well as those who swim for fun to replenish their bodies with the proper fuel in order to stay active and healthy.
A light and easily digestible breakfast is important to start any day when you might be swimming. Though many people may be inclined to skip breakfast prior to competition due to nerves, this will ultimately have a negative impact on your health and performance. If you are feeling nervous and want something to ease that feeling, toast is a go-to. Cereal (although staying away from cereals high in sugar is advised) and oatmeal are great options for a nutritious breakfast, as they provide carbohydrates that will help you during the day. Fruits are also always good prior to, and following physical activity.
These are foods that should keep you energized, while also being light enough to enhance your swimming, not hinder it.
Lunch and In-Between Meets
Depending on the time at which you are swimming, lunch options may change. Protein is extremely important to include in your diet as an athlete, and thankfully there are multiple protein options to choose from. Nuts are a popular source of protein, and one with many variants depending on your preference. Nut butter, such as peanut butter and almond butter, are great for sandwiches, as well as sides for any fruits and vegetables. If you prefer meat on your sandwich, lean meats such as chicken, fish, and turkey are the way to go. You can also find plenty of protein bars, which is a great option for a busy schedule.
Foods like protein bars and nuts are not only a great addition to any lunch box, but also for snacks between meets and practices. You will most likely need an energy boost if you are racing, so make sure not to skip on snacks. Trail mix is another great option for snacking, as you can find mixes that meet your specific tastes.
If you are planning a meal before a meet, carbohydrates can actually be a good source of energy during a race. This is why pre-meet pasta is a popular dish.
After a long day of swimming, you are most likely exhausted and in need of nourishment. Dinner is a great time to get your vitamins and minerals in, which makes it a great time for vegetables. Make this and your protein of choice the bulk of the meal. There are plenty of meat substitutes like tofu, lentils, or chickpeas if your diet does not include meat. Incorporating carbohydrates in your dinner is completely healthy, as long as you have the protein and vegetables to go along with it.
Why is a Good Meal Important?
Curating a healthy diet helps swimmers perform the best that they can. The body’s energy supply comes from the stomach, and anything that you eat will be used as fuel when exerting any type of labor or exercise. In the process of turning food into fuel, all of the carbohydrates in that meal are being broken down into a sugar called glucose. This is transferred into the bloodstream and used for energy later.
Ultimately, in order to be a good swimmer, you need to give your body the proper tools to do its job. Without the proper nutrients, your body will most likely be fatigued and will hinder not only your physical abilities but your overall health.
SwimRVA offers many programs designed to help build your physical, emotional, social, and intellectual health. The staff is highly passionate about helping improve everyone’s quality of life through aquatics. We offer a variety of different health and wellness classes, encouraging those who participate to share their knowledge, as well as form friendships with those in the community.
Swimming should be a source of joy, a fun activity to increase your safety, sportsmanship, and overall health. In order to get the most out of your swim experiences, make sure to create a nutritional palette for yourself and for your kids.