Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Smart Eating for Swimmers Heading Into Competition

The day(s) before:

A lot of the energy used on the day of competition starts with what you eat beforehand. In the days leading up to competition, avoid trying new foods or changing your eating habits too much - you certainly don't want to eat anything heavy or that makes you feel bloated or uncomfortable. Stick with what you know works for you. Several days leading up to the competition, and especially the night before, stick to well-rounded "clean foods" meals with a decent portion of carbs. 

- lean protein
- bread / cereal / pasta / rice
- veggies, such as corn, potatoes, peas
- fruit

The day of competition:

Start the day with lots of fluids, water is best, but watered down pure fruit juice is also an option (ratio 1 part juice to 3-4 parts water). Have a decent breakfast, if you can stomach it - often swimmers are nervous on the day of competition but starting on the right foot will go a long way as the day progresses. Cereal, toast, or fruit are each good sources of carbs. Don't overdo the amount of food you eat, just eat as much as you normally would, you'll be fuelling throughout the day as well, so don't overeat in comparison to your regular routine - it will only make you feel sluggish. 

Make sure to leave at least 3 hours between your meal and  your first race, to allow for digestion. Don't worry about factoring in the warmups before the competition actually starts, but be sure to time any meals a minimum of 3 hours before any strenuous physical races.

Pre-race  and between race snacks

Chances are you'll be wound up with excitement, or nervous, or both. Eat foods that go down easily, for many swimmers, this means liquids or soft foods. Again, stick with what you know, and avoid foods that might leave you bloated or uncomfortable. You likely won't eat 3 square meals at your regular times, so consider packing a ton of lighter options to nibble on throughout the day. 

Good guidelines to follow:
1. for good digestion, snack a maximum of 30-45 minutes before your race
2. for good recovery, eat something within 20 minutes after your race

Pack a cooler with your snacks the night before to avoid rushing on the big day. Bring more than what you think you'll need, just to be sure, throw a couple of ice packs in to keep things chilled if needed.

- fresh fruit (grapes and orange slices are great)
   **bananas take a little longer to digest, 2 hrs approx.
- tinned fruit or applesauce cups
- smoothie or protein shake
- muffins or bagels
- granola bars or fig cookies
- crackers or sandwich with a little peanut butter
- healthy breakfast cookies: link

Bring your water bottle, be sure to stay hydrated.

Foods to avoid:
- sugary foods
- caffeine
- fizzy drinks
- fatty foods
- sugary sports drinks

Here's a little more on the subject...

USA Swimming: Smart Eating for Swimmers on Race Day

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