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Swimmers have a healthy appetite, especially after a swim session. A competitive swimmer can burn up to 600 calories in just one hour of swimming laps! With this type of calorie consumption, it’s important for swimmers to get the necessary replenishment they need to perform their best in the pool. Below are the best types of snack options for your swimmer to consume, whether it’s in between or after a swim lesson, practice, or meet.
A general rule is to focus on the macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These have important functions in the body and it is crucial to have the appropriate amount for peak performance.
Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver to use during physical activity. Naturally, after a workout, lesson, or practice, glycogen is depleted and needs to be replaced to gain energy again. Swimmers require about 55-60% of carbohydrates in their diets. There are two types of carbohydrates – complex carbs and simple carbs.
Complex carbs are made up of three or more sugars that are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and take longer to digest. Complex carbs are great for keeping energy levels steady and perfect before or after a competition or practice. Simple carbs are composed of only one or two sugars and can give swimmers a quick burst of energy. It is important to incorporate both.
Some great carbohydrate choices include:
- Sandwich with chicken, turkey, and nut butter & jam on whole wheat bread
- Whole grain crackers with cheese
- Whole grain cereals
- Bran muffins
- Energy bars/energy drinks
- Fresh fruit
- Vegetable and cheese pizza on whole wheat crust
- Whole grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese
- Greek yogurt with fresh fruit. Add honey as a sweetener and granola for extra crunch!
Protein is full of amino acids that help build and repair muscle, making it one of the best kinds of snacks for a growing athlete! Eating the right amount of protein can reduce next-day muscle soreness, helps support immune systems, and curbs hunger. About 15 – 20% of calories should come from protein.
Here are some great protein snack options:
- Whole-wheat pita bread with hummus (chickpeas provide lots of protein). You can always add veggies for extra fiber.
- Chocolate milk provides protein and calcium to strengthen bones. The natural sugar lactose stimulates insulin and helps feed amino acids to your muscles making this a perfect post swim snack.
- A chicken/tuna salad or turkey sandwich with spinach and cheese can provide a nutrient dense, protein rich snack.
Note: While yogurt is a good protein snack, make sure it’s low in sugar. Nuts and nut butter are a good choice too, but can be high in fat. Try not to consume them in excess.
Everyone needs some fat intake to help your body circulate vitamins. The best fat doesn’t come from potato chips or donuts but through healthy options like avocados, olives, nut butters, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
Energy Needs for Swimmers
Serious and competitive swimmers require more frequent snacks, much more than non-athletes or casual, recreational swimmers. Swimmers begin to deplete energy stores within 90 minutes of training. A good rule of thumb is to refuel after every 90 minutes of swimming activity. It is also important to snack before and after swim sessions as well to keep energy levels steady and replenish muscles.
Do Not Ignore Hydration
Hydration often doesn’t get the attention it deserves when it comes to swimming. For all bodies to perform their best, it is absolutely necessary to maintain proper hydration throughout the day. Hydration is important especially before a race or meet. Click here for more information on swimmer hydration: http://texasswimacademy.com/hydration-tips-for-swimmers/