The importance of nutrition in your training programme cannot be overstated. You will perform better and recover faster between training sessions if you eat the correct types and amounts of food and drink enough hydration before, during, and after each training session. It will also help you stay healthy by lowering your risk of developing colds and other upper respiratory ailments. Here are some nutritional tips to help you get the most out of your workouts.
What should a swimmer’s diet consist of?
Swimmers require a nutrient-dense diet that includes enough protein for muscle growth and repair, as well as (mostly unsaturated) fat for fuel and overall health. One third of the plate should contain carbs (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, or cereal), one third protein (fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu), and one third vegetables on training days. To ensure you obtain the omega-3 fats, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other preventive nutrients needed to stay healthy and boost recovery, include healthy fats (olive oil, oily fish, nuts) and at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
Before your early morning training
Early in the morning, a 2-hour workout will put a strain on your body’s carbohydrate (glycogen) supplies. Without anything, you can feel OK for the first half of the exercise but exhausted by the end. Low blood glucose levels, early weariness, lightheadedness, nausea, and a poor performance can all occur from training on an empty stomach.
Porridge, wholegrain toast with honey, a banana (or other fruit), a fruit and nut bar (e.g. Nakd), or granola are all good high-carb foods to eat.
Can’t eat anything solid? A nutritional drink, such as a smoothie or yoghurt, is a good choice. It’s preferable to have some fuel than none at all.
After a night’s sleep, drink plenty of water to rehydrate.
After your morning workout, have a large breakfast
If you’ll be training again later in the evening, it’s especially vital to refuel within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. This will hasten the recovery of your muscles.
It should be high in carbohydrate to refill depleted fuel stores (glycogen) and protein to repair and rebuild muscles.
Porridge with fruit and nuts, strained Greek yoghurt with fruit and nuts, eggs and toast, and wholegrain cereal (such as granola, muesli, or Weetabix) with milk and yoghurt are all good choices.
Snacks and meals should be consumed on a regular basis throughout the day
Always eat at regular intervals and avoid skipping meals. You’ll require more gasoline if you’re more active.
Meals and snacks should be planned and organised. Bring appropriate snacks to school.
3 meals and 2–4 snacks is a good rule of thumb.
2 hours before your evening training, refuel
If you work out in the evening, your earlier meals and snacks will help you stay fueled.
2 hours before training is the best time to have a pre-workout meal.
Dinner should be served between 4 and 5 p.m. if your training session begins at 7 p.m. Rather of being stuffed, aim for ‘comfortably full.’
If your workout begins at 5 p.m., eat a smaller meal or a nutritious snack at 3 or 4 p.m., along with a drink.
If you don’t eat before training, you won’t have enough energy during the workout.
You will feel uncomfortable, heavy, and sick if you eat too much or too close to training.
Before training, eat carbs and protein
Prioritise carbohydrates-rich foods over all other items before a workout, especially if you’ll be training for two hours. During exercise, this is the body’s preferred energy source.
Wherever possible, combine wholegrain carbs with a source of protein and some vegetables to give sustained energy and boost performance.
Pre-and post-workout meals (2 -3 hours before or immediately after):
- One-pot meal: curry, stew, casserole, tagine, dahl, risotto
- Stir-fry with chicken, prawns or tofu with veg + noodles
- Rice + fish/ bolognese/ lentils with veg or salad
- Pasta + chicken (or beans) + veg
If you don’t have time for a meal (for example, if you’re training early in the morning), eat a snack 30 minutes before your workout.
Pre-workout snacks (1/2 hour – 1 hour before) :
- Toast (wholegrain) with honey or jam
- A banana (or other fresh fruit) & yogurt
- A handful of dried fruit (e.g. raisins, apricots) and nuts
- Porridge or wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk
Within 30 minutes, refuel with carbs and protein (if you train 2 x day)
Even if it’s late at night, start refuelling with carbs and protein within 30 minutes after finishing your workout. This will speed up the recovery of your muscles and make you feel better in the morning.
500 mL milk, hot chocolate, milkshake, or flavour milk
Yogurt, bananas, and nuts
PB/cheese/fish/chicken on wholemeal toast/sandwich
If you merely had a snack before training, wait until you get home to have your meal.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout
Dehydration slows you down and makes swimming more difficult. The most crucial thing is that you arrive at your training session fully hydrated (a ‘pee test’ can be used to check for dehydration).
Throughout the day, drink frequently and in little amounts.
2 hours before the session, drink 250–300 ml.
Drink little amounts frequently while training, such as 3–4 gulps every 15 minutes (or at appropriate intervals), rather than a huge volume all at once.
You’ll need to drink more if you’re working hard because you’ll sweat more. The general rule is that for every kilometre swum, you should consume roughly 125ml of fluid. Per two-hour session, approximately 500ml – 1l
To assist healing, drink plenty of water after your workout.
How can you keep from getting tired throughout your workout?
Dehydration can cause early weariness during exercise; avoid this by drinking plenty of water before and during the practise.
Low blood sugar levels — avoid this by drinking diluted squash (e.g. Robinsons Select) or any ready-made drink containing roughly 5g sugar per 100ml.
Glycogen stores in your muscles are depleted – avoid this by having a balanced breakfast with carbs, protein (and some fat) about 2–3 hours before training; eat consistently throughout the day; and don’t skip meals.