Swim Nutrition Tips
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Focus your fuel for a quality swim
Caryn Zinn PhD
New Zealand Registered Dietitian/Sports Nutrition Consultant
firstname.lastname@example.org | 021 422 911
The last decade of sports nutrition guidance has focused on “what” to eat. We know that a balanced diet covering all nutrients from a wide variety of foods and a comprehensive fluid plan is essential. However cutting edge research of this decade suggests that paying closer attention to “when” you eat could be even more important to achieve your body composition and performance goals. Focusing your nutrients optimally prior to, during and after your swim sessions will help recover/repair muscle damage and recover energy stores, setting your body up to be in great shape for your next session, whether it be later in the day or the following day.
Pre-exercise key strategies:
- Consume a high carbohydrate, moderate protein, low fat / fibre meal 1-3 hours prior to a swim session. Combining carbs and protein at this meal can help provide enough energy for the swim (carbs) and help moderate some muscle damage at the micro-level that you encounter during exercise (protein).
- Example breakfast meal: Bowl of porridge or grainy cereal, Add low fat milk or yoghurt for protein. Add fruit (fresh or dried) for extra carbohydrate. Add fluid (1-2 glasses water / milk / juice) to ensure you are well hydrated.
- For the “appetite-challenged” and the very early morning swimmers, liquid meals are well tolerated (smoothies / liquid milk-based beverages).
- Modify the size of your meal according to the duration and intensity of the swimming session- trial what works best for you in training or seek more personalised guidance.
During exercise key strategies: (Pool swimming of course!)
Take a water bottle along with you and consume your fluids in your break times.
- Aim for 400-750ml per hour – this is very dependent on individual requirements.
- For more demanding sessions lasting longer than 1-1 ½ hours, you will need to consume some carbs during this time; sports drinks are particularly useful.
Recovery key strategies:
- Consume a recovery meal or snack within 30 minutes of finishing a training session / event.
- This meal should contain ALL of these nutrients: carbs, protein and fluid, e.g. chicken salad sandwich & a bottle of sports drink, or a bowl of cereal, fruit and low fat milk.
- Another substantial meal should follow within 2-4 hours of finishing the session.
The great thing about SMOOTHIES…
… is that they are suitable for both pre-exercise and recovery strategies as they typically contain a good combination of carbohydrate, protein and fluid, tend to sit well in the gut and are often nutrient dense (i.e. full of important vitamins and minerals). See below for a user-friendly, nutrient-loaded smoothie recipe:
Blueberry Banana Smoothie
1 medium banana, 3/4 cup fresh/frozen blueberries (or other berries), 1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt, 1 cup non-fat milk, 2 tablespoon of wheatgerm, pinch of cinnamon (optional).
Low body fat levels can be advantageous to the swimmer as there is less weight to pull through the water. If you want to shed some body fat, cutting out food before, during or after your swim is not the best way to go about doing this. If you want to achieve a certain body composition goal without compromising energy or performance, and if you want some personalised help with focussing your fuel for optimal performance, I can help email@example.com | 021 422 911