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Top Ten Nutrition Tips for Swimmers


1. Eat Breakfast

· Maintains blood sugars and starts fueling early to support two-a-day training sessions or early AM workouts

· Start the day with breakfast containing carbs (whole wheat bread or cereal, fruit) and protein (eggs, yogurt or milk)



2. Fuel with carbohydrates throughout the day

· Eat whole grains, fruit and dairy/dairy alternatives at each of your meals to fuel your muscles

· Eat extra carbohydrates 3 days before big competition (not excessive carb loading) - add extra fruit or an extra helping of potatoes, brown rice or whole grain bread/pasta to meals

· Eat simple carbs (pretzels, sports drink, fruit) after intense workouts to replace sugar into muscles more quickly


3. Eat protein throughout the day not just at dinner

· Improves muscle recovery and repair

· Spread protein rich foods throughout the day by eating some at each meal and with most snacks (chicken, turkey, lean beef, cheese, eggs, milk, nuts, and nut butter, Greek yogurt)

· Rule of thumb- 20-25 grams of protein each meal and 10-15 grams with snacks (3 ounces = deck of cards)


4. Fuel properly after exercise

· Improves muscle recovery from intense, hard workouts

· Try eating within 30-45 minutes after a hard workout, containing simple carbs plus protein to aid in muscle recovery and restoring muscle glycogen


5. Hydrate throughout the day

· Not drinking enough can lead to dehydration and poor performance

· Look at the color of your urine to figure out if you are well hydrated- should be a very light yellow or clear

· Start drinking water as soon as you wake up and carry a water bottle with you throughout the day

· Keep a water bottle on the pool deck to sip on throughout practice- consider using electrolyte tabs and/or sports drinks during high-intensity workouts


6. Time snacks and meals properly for practices or competitions

· Eat your main meal containing carbs, protein and healthy fat at least 3-4 hours before you exercise

· Eat easily digesting carbs before you exercise

· Recover by eating carbs plus protein within 30-45 minutes after exercise- continue recovery with a meal or snack within 2 hours after exercise


7. Eat a bedtime snack after an intense workout or competition day

· Eat a snack containing carb plus protein to aid with muscle recovery

· Try eating Greek yogurt and fruit, nut butter and bread, Protein smoothie, peanut butter and apple, Protein granola bar or handful of nuts with fruit


8. Eat an iron-rich diet

· Low levels of iron can lead to feeling tired and decreased swimming performance

· Choose foods iron-rich- lean ground beef, pork chops, pork tenderloin, sirloin, skinless chicken thighs, fish and shellfish, fortified cereals, eggs, beans, pumpkin seeds, spinach and tofu

· Consider getting iron, including ferritin and transferrin saturation, levels check at least once a year- you may need an iron supplement if levels are truly deficient (check with your physician before starting an supplementation)


9. Get enough vitamin D

· Vitamin D “sunshine hormone” helps build a healthy immune system and muscle strength

· Drink or eat dairy or dairy alternatives 4 servings/day- cow’s milk, nut milk, soy milk, yogurt

· Consider taking vitamin D 3 supplement (Nature Made) 1000 units/day during fall/winter


10. Plan Ahead!

· Don’t get stuck eating from the concession stands at competitions

· Pack a cooler on competition days filled with healthy snacks and beverages

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