For most people, eating three square meals a day is not a bad way to eat. However swimmers are not like most people. In fact, swimmers aren’t even like most athletes when it comes to calorie requirements. When a dedicated swimmer decides to become truly mindful of what and when to eat they’ll need a watch to make sure they eat often enough.
The caloric demand placed on swimmers increases especially once they reach high school age and begin weight training. Not only does the body burn calories and fat stores to get through the hours of swimming each week, but now anaerobic weight-resistance work requires calories around-the-clock for muscle tissue repair. Take time after reading this article to study the concept of “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption”. Make sure it’s a reputable scientific article. This will help drive home the suggestions in this article.
For now, though, let’s look at how often and when swimmers should be eating. Grocery planning, making protein shakes, and looking for gaps in your schedule to eat takes time and effort. A good starting point is to eat a healthy breakfast just after a nice 8 hours of sleep and then planning meals every 3 hours (+/- a half hour depending on busy schedules).
Literature supports steady states of circulating blood glucose levels, among other things, to aid in tissue repair. Consumption, digestion, and processing calories in the body in a time-focused approach provides a steady stream of nutrients for ongoing cell repair.
Many factors must be considered such as, gender, age, exercise intensity, body fat, expenses, and hour-by-hour understanding of his/her schedule including weekends.
After considering these factors, I have found the most successful clients are the swimmers who eat 5-7 times per day. Half of those meals may just be protein powder in water or a handful of nuts or maybe a bowl of veggies. Many challenges exist but with planning for the following day and some help from the adults who love and support them, mature student-athletes will rise to the challenge and develop meal-planning habits that mimic those of collegiate athletes.
Imagine for a minute what you would feel like in the water if you were eating healthy foods frequently throughout every single day! Keep in mind this needs to include weekends. So learn the habits of what and when to eat now while in high school and begin to reach your potential before you ever step on a college campus!
Thanks for taking time to read,
Hi, I am a father of two USA swimmers. I have worked as a consultant to many athletes, natural bodybuilders, and swimmers over the past 15 years to customize lifestyles that promote significant recovery so the body can perform at its highest potential with every subsequent workout. After a plan is established, frequent communication (via FaceTime, phone calls, text messaging, etc) over a period of six months can assure both the athlete and myself that these habits are engrained. I am available for a limited number of consultations. Clients must be intrinsically and highly motivated as the principles I incorporate are based on consistency and hard work. Feel free to email me to get the process started.
B.S. Health Promotion and Wellness, B.S. Nursing, M.S. Nurse Anesthesia, Former Natural Bodybuilding Competitor, Former YMCA Swim Coach and Former Personal Trainer