The Best Foods to Eat as a Swimmer

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The Best Foods to Eat as a Swimmer

Swimming requires a lot of energy and endurance, and nutrition is a cornerstone of performance for any athlete. Some athletes think they can eat whatever they want because they work so hard in practice. Others don’t eat enough because they don’t want to risk losing their progress from their hard work in the pool.

However, you’ll only be able to reach your full potential once you consume proper nutrition. As a swimmer, you should plan to eat between four and seven light meals depending on your activity level. If you train intensely for more than a couple of hours, you’ll need to eat more easily digestible food. Half of your meal should be carbohydrates, and the other half should be fruits, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and protein.

Swimming Nutrition

Eating a balanced diet consisting of all the healthy food groups is key to reaching your peak performance. Your activity level and intensity during training will affect how much you should be eating. Remember to switch up what you’re eating instead of making the same meals daily. Keep your days and food interesting, and don’t be afraid to try something new on your off days.

Some of the best foods for swimming nutrition include:

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates give our bodies the energy we need to go about our day. When you exercise, you use that energy. You have to ensure you replace that fuel to continue to work hard throughout the day. Raisins, power bars, bananas, apples, and pretzels are great foods rich in the carbohydrates needed to fuel your body.
  • Protein: During training, your muscles experience a lot of stress. You need to eat plenty of protein to repair and rebuild your muscles. Protein also boosts the immune system and helps to keep you full throughout the day, so you are free from hunger pangs. Eggs, fish, lean meat, and low-fat dairy are excellent protein sources.
  • Fruits and vegetables: The fruits and veggies we are always told to eat will go a long way to protect our bodies and reduce many common health risks such as cancer and heart disease. Berries, oranges, dark leafy vegetables, and apples are excellent foods to incorporate into your daily lifestyle.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals affect every part of your body, from your muscles and bones to your immune system, and they work to keep you healthy and energized. You can find a lot of the vitamins and minerals that you need in the healthy foods you consume. However, you can also take supplements for those you may not get enough of, such as iron and magnesium. Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables that provide essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Healthy fats: Distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy fats can be the difference between feeling energized and sluggish. Fat builds cell membranes and absorbs minerals, and we need them to survive. Healthy fats include nuts, avocados, seeds, and olive oil.

Furthermore, you also need to make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day. Keeping hydrated is one of the easiest ways to avoid self-sabotaging. You constantly sweat and exert effort in the pool, and you need to ensure you refill your body with the nutrients it needs.

What to Eat Before Competitions

Before meets or competitions, you should eat a high-carb meal low in fat and fiber. Ideally, you want to eat your carbs with at least four hours between your meal and the race to allow your body to turn those complex foods into the energy you need. An hour or so before the meet, you can follow up with a protein bar or fresh fruit.

Some teams like to have fun by implementing “pasta parties” and similar group meals the night before a meet. Whole grain or plant-based pasta can be a great way to have a healthy meal that fuels your body without carb-loading. This is typically a good meal plan if your meet is early in the morning so you won’t have enough time to eat the carbohydrates you need beforehand. Eating pasta the night before allows your body to slowly break down the nutrients and leaves you with enough energy for the next day.

What to Eat During Competitions

Food breaks can be hard to come by during meet days. Sometimes you may have a few hours to prepare, others only minutes. It would be best to practice what you plan to eat and drink during your training sessions. You never want to experiment with foods on race days.

During competitions where your events are close together, you want to keep your food consumption light and easily digestible. You could consume a sports drink, yogurt, fresh or dried fruit, or juice. These foods will quickly turn to energy and prepare you to race without weighing you down.

If you find yourself with an extra hour or two, you can eat a more substantial snack. Sushi or sandwiches with simple ingredients and fixings can be an excellent energy source later in the day. You could also have a small helping of whole-grain pasta. However, you have to be careful with those dishes because too much slow you down rather than speed you up. With enough time, eating pasta can be a great way to find yourself ready to compete in those later events.

What to Eat After Swimming

You’ll need to refuel after expending a ton of energy on your race or training. Whether you’ve completed an intense speed workout or just finished a race, you’ll want to eat soon after you’ve finished, even if you only consume a snack until dinner time. You could munch on some ham and cheese rollups or make a smoothie rich in superfoods for swimmers. Some superfoods include berries, milk, bananas, and chia seeds.

Other post-swim foods include:

  • Omelets
  • Poached eggs on toast
  • Homemade pizza with veggies
  • Peanut butter and bananas
  • Turkey
  • Brown rice
  • Oily fish
  • Chicken
  • Protein bars
  • Nuts

Always be sure to drink a ton of water after swimming. Your body will need that liquid gold after exerting so much energy. You’ll likely notice weight loss after intense training, and a good rule of thumb is to drink 20 ounces for every pound you’ve lost. You don’t have to weigh yourself before and after every meet, but you should keep in mind that you need to drink a lot of water to replace what you’ve lost through sweating.

Swimwear and Gear from Kiefer Aquatics

Kiefer Aquatics carries the best suits out there. Manufactured by quality brands and with premium materials, our suits stretch through all your needs and help you glide through the water. We carry products from top brands to ensure you get the most out of your training, workouts, and competitions. Our training swimwear is designed to last for hundreds of hours in the water and protects against UV rays, body oils, salt, and chlorine.

With over 70 years of industry experience, we know why it’s crucial to have quality swimwear and gear. We’re committed to Swim with Confidence, and we continue to look for new ways to reinvent the way we swim. Shop our swimwear or browse our swim gear and experience equipment and suits that help you glide through the water.


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