Food for Thought on Racing Day
At meets getting on the blocks and going all-out is the highest priority. But the 2nd-highest priority should be knowing how to eat and recover between races.
There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” for nutrition during a meet. Let’s look at two important considerations and some practical tips that any swimmer can implement at their next meet.
The first consideration is digestion. Studies are shedding more and more light on the “gut-brain axis” and I would encourage anyone who struggles with digestion at meets to learn more about this topic. Here are just a few tips for all swimmers on meet day, especially those that struggle with eating during competition.
- Examine what you normally eat at meets
- Substitute berries for Goldfish
- Eat a complex carbohydrate like oatmeal for breakfast
- Do not overindulge at breakfast
- Plan a protein shake mid-morning during a long break
The second factor in determining your nutrition plan is timing. There are foods that simply shouldn’t be eaten within 45 minutes of a race because they take too long to digest. Likewise, eating a large amount of simple sugars will spike insulin levels and create a “sugar crash” that leaves swimmers feeling sluggish while waiting around for the next race. Here are just a few tips for all swimmers on meet day regarding meal timing strategies.
- Examine each day of the meet to learn when you’ll have your longest breaks between races
- Maintain the same amount of time between breakfast and your 2nd meal as you do throughout the season
- One scoop of protein powder in water is a great mid-morning meal…not too filling and will not rapidly spike insulin levels
- Try eating a small handful of berries after each race to replace the drop in circulating blood glucose levels
We all know berries are healthier than candy bars but, when it comes to being elite competitors, there is a lot more to think about on racing day. Coming up with a swim meet nutrition plan and training your body to eat at long meets is definitely some good food for thought!
Matt is a father of two USA swimmers and has worked as a performance consultant to many athletes, natural bodybuilders, and swimmers. He is available for consultations to help athletes develop long-term customized habits and strategies to increase their performance. email@example.com
B.S. Health Promotion, B.S. Nursing, M.S.N. Anesthesia, Experienced Natural Bodybuilding Competitor, Former Swim Coach and Personal Trainer