What to Eat the Day Before a Meet
The day before the meet, the swimmer should eat foods that are high in complex carbs and drink fluids often.
Swim England Masters advises to “eat little and often—every two to four hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and fuel muscles.” Stick to foods that you are familiar with and avoid big meals. Do not overeat – you’ll feel lethargic on race day!
Foods with Complex Carbs:
• Brown rice
• Sweet potatoes or white potatoes with skin
• 100% whole wheat bread and pasta
What to Eat for Breakfast Before Practice or Meet
Even if you feel too tired or nervous to eat, you need to eat – even if it’s just a little bit.
Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps your body prepare for what is to come while helping maximize performance and training.
Eat something light and easily digestible such as cereal, oatmeal, banana, toast, fresh fruit or yogurt. If you really lack appetite in the morning, Sport Dietitians of Australia recommends drinking a liquid meal, such as milk tetra packs or smoothies.
What to Eat Before a Practice or Meet
The swimmer should eat a high-carb meal two to four hours prior to a practice or meet. The meal should be low in fiber and fat. Examples are whole grain cereal with milk, fresh fruit or oatmeal with banana or cinnamon.
One to two hours before, the swimmer should follow up with a light snack such as fresh fruit or a sports bar.
What to Eat During a Meet
The swimmer should make sure to eat and drink between events to aid in recovery and to ward off dehydration.
If the swimmer has less than one hour between events, the snack should be light and easy to digest. Sport Dietitians of Australia recommends juice, yogurt pouches and small pieces of fresh fruit.
If the swimmer has more than one to two hours between races, they can fuel with the following: pasta, sandwiches (whole grain or whole wheat bread and organic meat) or sushi.
Bring a cooler of food so you are ready to re-fuel!
Snacks to Eat Between Races
After a race or practice, the swimmer needs to eat as soon as possible for recovery. Snacks should consist of complex carbs and proteins, not simple sugars or foods high in fat. Foods such as pasta salad, plain sandwich, bananas, grapes, apples, dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, mango), cereal bars, yogurt and unsalted nuts are perfect for this.
If you can’t do solids between your races, try diluted juice with a pinch of salt, chocolate milk or a smoothie.
What to Eat After Meets and Practice
Foods eaten after practice or a meet should contain carbs for fuel and protein for muscular repair and growth. The swimmer should also drink water to stay hydrated.
Carbs: fruit smoothies, yogurt fruit cup, fresh fruit or toast and jelly (or peanut butter with bananas).
Proteins: whole wheat pita and hummus, white meat sandwich, chocolate milk (protein and calcium to strengthen bones and feeds amino acids in the muscles), tuna salad, eggs, nuts, edamame, smoothie with dairy and omelets or fried eggs on toast.
In conclusion, perhaps Baker sums it up the best:
Swimmers – it is time to stop leaving your nutrition floating in the pool. I guarantee you that if you continue to train and implement the above swimmer’s nutrition recommendations into your diet, you will be able to swim faster and longer because of it. Don’t take your swimming nutrition for granted, it is just as important as your hours in the pool.