Here are some tips for eating well to keep your fuel tank full during training and galas.
Nutrition is key to keeping you healthy, helping you recover quickly and reducing your chances of picking up colds or illnesses.
Drink plenty before you arrive for training and during your swim. Dehydration will slow you down and it is difficult to tell how much you sweat in the pool. Whilst you are swimming have 3-4 gulps every 15 minutes or whenever it’s convenient. Check the colour of your wee regularly. It should be very pale yellow colour, any darker and you should up your fluids! Drink plenty after training too, to help recovery. Sports drinks are only needed during training sessions over 60 minutes. Otherwise water, diluted squash or fruit juice diluted half and half with water, are best. Milk, milkshakes, and milky drinks like hot chocolate are great recovery drinks after swimming as they provide a mixture of protein and carbohydrate. Have your milkshake within 30 minutes of finishing your swim to refuel your muscles- otherwise try yoghurt, cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, fruit buns or a bowl of cereal. Smoothies are fine if they include real fruit but many are full of sugar so check the labels. Better still make your own by whizzing up your favourite fruit and adding a yoghurt, some milk or fruit juice.
Try to eat 2-4 hours before training. For early morning swims where this isn’t possible, have a snack 30 minutes – 1 hour before training.
Carbohydrates/starchy foods are the best fuel for training. Aim to have 1/3 of your plate carbohydrates (pasta, wholemeal bread, rice, potatoes with skins if possible, breakfast cereal) 1/3 of your plate protein (fish, chicken, lean meat, eggs, beans, quorn or meat substitute) and 1/3 of your plate vegetables or salad (aim for 5 portions per day). Imagine your plate with a Y on it to help you serve up the right balance of food groups.
Early morning swim training- meal ideas:
Cereal and milk
Porridge and banana/dried fruit
Slice of malt loaf
Fruit salad and yoghurt
Or if you can’t face food a glass of milk a milkshake or smoothie
(Anything is better than nothing!)
Light meals/snacks before training ideas:
Wholemeal sandwich/wrap/pitta/bagel with salad and chicken/ham/tuna/salmon/ peanut butter/egg/ houmous/low fat cream cheese
Pasta salad or pasta with tomato sauce
Baked beans or egg on toast
Soup and a roll
Yoghurt and fruit
Full meals ideas (if there is 2-4 hours before training starts):
Stir fry with rice or noodles
Pasta and bolognese/tomato sauce/tuna and grated cheese
Lamb or pork chop/chicken or fish with new potatoes and veg
Omelette with beans and low-fat oven chips
Jacket potato with mince/ baked beans/ tuna and sweetcorn
Shepherd’s pie or fish pie with vegetables
Rice with peas and chicken
Risotto or chilli con carne
Vegetable or chicken curry and rice
Quorn/low-fat sausage or fish fingers with jacket wedges and peas
Aim to be comfortably full but not ‘stuffed’ after your meal!
Eating for success – Competitions and Galas:
Drink plenty in the days before the gala to keep hydrated and have 200-300mls 2 hours before races start.
Plan ahead so that you don’t end up eating unhealthy snacks from the vending machine all day. Take your own supply of food and drink.
Don’t be tempted to load up on crisps, sweets, sugary drinks or energy drinks all day. They will not give you the long term energy you need to perform at your best.
Always try new foods before race day and training sessions – they might not suit you on the day.
Ideas for refuelling snacks between races:
Fresh fruit that is easy to eat: bananas, chopped melon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, blueberries
Dried fruit: mango, raisins, apricots
Cereal bars or muesli/granola bars
Rice cakes or snack-a-jacks
Mini pancakes or pikelets
Fruited teacakes or a slice of fruit cake or malt loaf
Milkshakes, yoghurt drinks
Breadsticks or crackers
Twiglets or pretzels