SwimmerJoe – If you are a heavy training athlete, you need to know how to recover, fuel up before workout and maintain a regular diet during a rough training season. For maximum focus, strength and sustainability during workouts, nutrition is a must. If you DO NOT regularly practice this, you WILL NOT be at your best. Start now and try it for a full season, you’ll see a huge difference!

Pre-Workout

via USA Swimming and Livestrong.com
BY CHRIS ROSENBLOOM, PHD, RD, CSSD

All kinds of pre-workout supplements are being marketed to athletes claiming to boost energy, enhance performance, and improve endurance. Do you need to eat before a workout? If so, what should you eat or drink? Let’s look at who might need a pre-workout snack and the best choices.

If your workout lasts longer than 45 minutes (and what swimmer’s workout doesn’t?) you should fuel up before exercise. What you should eat and how much you should eat depends on how much time you have before a workout.

Ideally, you will have time for a healthy meal 3-4 hours before exercise, so that there is time for the food to be digested and absorbed. But when reality strikes and you don’t have time to eat before swim practice, you should at least eat 30 grams of carbohydrate. Carbs that are easily digested and eaten 15 minutes before exercise can improve your performance when compared to exercising with no carbohydrate.

Here are my top picks for snacks with 30 grams of carbohydrate. These foods also provide other benefits, such as extra vitamins and minerals needed for optimum performance.

  • 6-ounce container of low-fat fruit yogurt has 30 grams of carbs with the added benefit of calcium (as much as a glass of milk), protein, potassium, vitamin A and riboflavin.
  • 2 mini-bagels with a piece of low-fat string cheese provide 30 grams of carbs, protein and B-vitamins needed for energy.
  • 1 medium to large sized banana has 30 grams of carbs. A banana is the original fast food – easy to pack and eat, and requires no refrigeration. Bananas are also a powerhouse for potassium, an electrolyte lost in sweat.
  • Banana-strawberry fruit smoothie (8-12 ounces depending on product). Liquids, like smoothies, are easy to digest and most contain calcium and vitamin C.
  • 10 mini-pretzels and ½ cup apple juice contain easy to digest carbs along with some sodium for those who are salty sweaters.

Eating before a workout doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. All it takes is some planning to have nourishing snacks available to power you through a workout.

Chris Rosenbloom is the sports dietitian for Georgia State University Athletic Department and is the editor of recently published Sports Nutrition: A Practice Manual for Professionals, 5th edition, published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2012).

During Workouts

Good article about eating during workouts.

Post-Workouts

BY CHRIS ROSENBLOOM, PHD, RD, CSSD

Recovery is a hot topic for swimmers and for good reason. A long pool and/or land workout burns muscle fuel and causes muscle protein breakdown. Eating a recovery snack within an hour of a workout speeds needed carbs and amino acids (the building blocks of protein that make up the protein-rich foods you eat) to replenish muscle glycogen and repair and build muscle tissue. Do you need to buy expensive protein shakes? No, because the same amino acids found in shakes can be found in food for less money and more taste. Here are recovery snacks that provide some carbohydrate and about 20 grams of high quality protein…the amount that most researchers agree is the optimal protein dose for recovery.

1. 2 cups of low-fat chocolate milk provides two important sources of protein: whey and casein. Chocolate milk may truly be nature’s recovery beverage because in addition to high quality protein it contains the natural sugar lactose that stimulates insulin, a hormone that helps feed the amino acids into the muscle. Milk also contains as much calcium and 10 cups of spinach to keep your bones strong.

2. 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with peaches, pears, or pineapple…or any fruit you like. Cottage cheese is rich the amino acid leucine which is thought to be the trigger for muscle protein synthesis. Although cottage cheese doesn’t taste salty, it has a higher sodium content than other dairy foods and this might be a good thing if you are a salty sweater (if you see white, salty streaks on your clothing or cap after it dries, you are probably a salty sweater.)

3. 3-ounces of turkey breast on a wheat bagel. Meat and fish provide about 7 grams of protein per ounce, so a 3-ounce portion gets to the needed 20 grams of protein. A three-ounce portion of meat is about the size of a deck of playing cards or a computer mouse.

4. 4 Tablespoons peanut butter and strawberry jam on wheat bread. This is an especially good recovery snack for those who are trying to gain weight. Peanut butter is higher in fat than other protein foods so means higher calories, but not to worry, the fat is the heart-healthy kind of fat.

5. 7-ounces of Greek yogurt with granola or fruit. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt and has a thicker consistency. Because it tastes a bit more like sour cream, sweeten it up with fruit or granola to add the carbs. Greek yogurt also makes a great topping for baked potatoes or cheese nachos as a substitute for higher-fat, lower-protein sour cream.

To get the most out of your training, practice good recovery by eating within the hour after exercise. You will be strong and ready to go for the next workout, which is most likely tomorrow!

Chris Rosenbloom is the sports dietitian for Georgia State University Athletic Department and is the editor of the American Dietetic Association’s Sports Nutrition Manual, 5th edition, 2012.

Regular Diets

If you are a swimmer, your diet can affect how you perform in the water. Eating foods high in fat, with little to no nutritional value, can make you feel sluggish and weighed down during competitions. Be sure to stay hydrated and aim for a consumption of 2.5 to 3.5 liters of fluid daily. Above all, remember to practice good eating habits year-round, not just during swimming season.

Carbohydrates
According to the USA Swimming website, 50 to 60 percent of your total calorie intake should come from complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs burn slowly to keep you energized during practices and competitions. Recommended foods include whole wheat bread, rye bread, wheat bagels, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grain cereals and beans.