Top Nutrition Resolutions for Swimmers
By Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, CSSD
Half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and the key to success is making your resolutions real and measureable. Swimmers are good at setting training and performance goals, so why not make some nutrition goals that support your training and competition? When I work with athletes I use the SMART goal approach; that is, set a goal that is Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Limited. Here are some nutrition New Year’s resolutions that can help boost your energy for training and keep you strong all season long. So, for 2012, resolve to improve what you put in your body.
- Pack snacks. Swim practices are long and grueling. Stay fueled by packing snacks before you leave the house each morning to help fight fatigue and replenish your energy reserves. Choose snacks that are portable, tasty and nutrient-rich. Good choices include peanut butter on crackers, 100% fruit juice or vegetable juices, trail mix, nuts, whole grain bagels with almond butter, raisin oatmeal cookies, fig bars, and dried or fresh fruit. Try freezing a bottle of sports drinks and using it as an ice pack to keep low-fat string cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt cold for a mid-day snack. Wash it down with the thawed sports drink.
- Don’t train hungry. Early morning pool workouts make it hard to eat breakfast but training on an empty stomach makes high intensity workouts more difficult. Your liver stores of glycogen (carbohydrate) can be depleted after an overnight fast and muscle can be broken down for needed fuel. Try eating a hard-boiled egg or a cup of instant oatmeal (stir in a tablespoon of peanut butter) in the morning before you dive into the water.
- Recover your losses. After a hard workout for more than 90 minutes or when competing in multiple events at a swim meet you need to replace lost glycogen. And, most athletes don’t drink enough fluids during exercise so at the end of activity they are often hypohydrated if not outright dehydrated. As soon as training or your first event is over eat and/or drink a carbohydrate-rich snack to start replacing glycogen. Your muscles are very receptive to replenishing lost fuel right after exercise, so don’t wait until the end of the day to eat. A carbohydrate-rich beverage can replace both glycogen and fluids.
- Break out of a food rut. Make this the year to try new food once a week…most of us eat the same foods day in and day out, but you might be surprised that you like tangerines if you’ve never tried one. Try different fruits, vegetables, grains and lean proteins….try quinoa or couscous instead of rice, broccoli instead of corn, or lean pork loin instead of chicken breast. If you don’t like it, that’s OK, at least you tried.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
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, scheduled for publication in 2012.