My mom sat across from me while I barely looked up from my food. I was 14, had just gotten back from practice, and had the post-killer workout ache in my belly that only a swimmer can truly know. It felt like there wasn’t enough food under the sun to return me back to normal. All I knew was that I needed to keep eating. Fast forward to now, and I’ve had YEARS to figure out how to perfect my swimmer’s meal plan. Although I’m not a nutritionist (and if you need to consult one, please do), I’ve figured out a few ways to help save myself and my swimmers from that aching swimmer hunger. Today, I’m going to share my top 3 tips that will make every swimmer’s meal plan more successful!
Let’s Get Started
The first tip I have for all of my swimmers is to take a look at how much protein they’re getting, and how often they’re getting their protein. A swimmer’s meal plan quite literally rests on their ability to get enough protein to help them capitalize on the gains they’re making in the pool! You should be eating some protein AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after practice. My nutritionist in college would always recommend that we eat a protein “snack” no more than 15 minutes after exiting the pool and a full meal no more than an hour to 1.5 hours after practice. Now, I know that recommendations change as more information becomes available to the professionals, but the core message stays the same. Get some sort of protein in you, stat!
A couple of options for snacks to eat as you’re exiting the pool deck:
- An apple with some peanut butter
- Protein Bar (but check the sugar content!)
- Chocolate Milk (my nutritionist in college would always have us chug some on our way out of the weight room. It’s delicious!)
- Yogurt! There’s so many ways to keep it interesting – fruit, granola, seeds, etc. (But again – check the sugar content!)
It’s also usually recommended to track your protein intake just like you’d track your training performance! I find that this is super dependent on the swimmer, so do what’s best for you!
Take A Supplement
My next tip for all of my swimmers is to TAKE A SUPPLEMENT! Because life is busy and sometimes things happen that are outside of our control (okay actually that happens all the time), it can be REALLY difficult and time-consuming to get all of the nutrients that we need to be running at optimal performance every day. That’s why I take a supplement EVERY SINGLE DAY. It feels like an insurance package for my swimmer’s meal plan.
Supplements can be a mind-field because it is so difficult to figure out what to take, how often to take it, and how to find companies that you can trust. It also can be nauseatingly expensive as you start adding up all of the different ones you need in order to really make an impact on your overall nutrition.
I swear by Athletic Greens. They’re an all in one supplement that focuses on getting you absolutely everything you need in one easy to use package (literally 75 vitamins and minerals). It’s really nice because I can start my day by mixing some of the supplement in some cold water, chugging it, and then go about my day knowing that my body is better because it has what it needs. On top of that, Athletic Greens has been proven to help with an athlete’s recovery (hello swimmers!).
My recommendation to all of my swimmers is to take a supplement, make it easy for yourself (so you’ll actually stick to it and get the benefits), and don’t overthink it!
The last part of a swimmer’s meal plan is to eat OFTEN! If you’re getting really hungry throughout the day, it’s a sign that you’re not giving your body what it needs often enough. A happy swimmer is a swimmer who snacks (again, protein!) in between meals, before and after practice, and even more as you go through harder parts of the training season!
I remember going through adolescence and watching as my non-swimmer friends would go 6+ hours in between their meals! I remember feeling self-conscious because I just couldn’t make it that long! Now I know that I shouldn’t have even tried! Swimmers need energy and food is fuel. I think choosing to give yourself exactly what you need to perform is the best gift that you can give yourself! Keep in mind why you love swimming and then do exactly what is right for you.
Although there is undoubtedly a much longer list of what to-do and what not to-do in order to have perfect nutrition for swimming, I find that incorporating these 3 tips is all that it takes to get swimmers to the next level. Winning at a swimmer’s meal plan is a crucial piece to accomplishing a swimmer’s dreams!
Until Next Time,