Monday, March 3, 2014

What To Eat Before & After Swim Meets

Preparations for the season’s biggest swim meet begins many months before you hit the pool on competition day but failing to properly fuel your body in the days leading up to race day can wreak havoc on your performance.  The success of a swim season usually hinges on your performance at one championship meet; perform at your peak and know you did your best time by fueling your body with the right foods before, during and after a swim meet.

Before the Meet

The foods you consume the day before an event is the fuel your body will use on race day. Avoid junk foods and foods high in sugar like desserts, sodas and candy.  The day before a meet, eat meals that have a high carbohydrate and protein content. Foods like pasta, breads, pretzels, potatoes, vegetables, rice, and corn all contain complex carbs that will stick with  you on race day. Eat a complete meal but do not overeat. Eat familiar foods your body is used to digesting. Some spicy foods will make people bloated and gassy; stay away from beans and curries unless you usually eat them. Remember to get a good night’s sleep before race day and stay hydrated.

Race Day Diet Tips

When you wake up on race day your stomach may be full of butterflies as you anticipate the race. Eating a light, well-rounded breakfast is a must on race day -even if you are not hungry. Breakfast items that can be easily digested into energy are a must and include: fruit, toast, cereal with milk, oatmeal, Greek yogurt and protein shakes. Stay away from simple sugars as their energy will not sustain you during your races.

Even the shortest swim meets take several hours to finish so it’s best to pack snacks to eat between your races. Again, stick to foods with complex carbs and protein. Nutrition bars, nuts, fruits, deli meats, cheese sticks and sport drinks will help to replenish your energy stores as you recover from race to race. You never want to swim on an empty stomach or a completely full stomach. Experiment with different healthy snack foods to find the ones that you like eating pre-race that don’t weigh you down.

Recovering After the Meet

When you are finished racing and hopefully have posted a personal best time, you need to consume food to help muscles recover. Soon after the meet has finished, replenish your body with water, protein and high carbohydrate foods. A peanut butter sandwich is perfect.  Even though you can’t see it in the pool, high temperatures, humidity and strenuous activity all cause your body to lose water through sweating, yes, even swimmers! Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate.

Swimmers are known for strenuous training regimens required to perform at their personal peak. Don’t throw away months of hard work by being oblivious to proper swim meet nutrition. By putting the right fuel in your body you can achieve your season’s goals!

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