Understanding the of Proper Nutrition for Swimmers
Want to stay healthy? Whenever you look for an answer to this question, you have the one trusted and proven answer – Eat healthily and exercise daily. So if you’re into a healthy lifestyle, you need good nutrition and a form of exercise that benefits your good food intake. And what’s better exercise than splashing the water, tuning your muscles to cut through the water?
Yes, swimming, when combined with a good diet, is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy.
Recent studies show that consumers invest their time and effort into learning more about practices that can boost their immunity, including nutrition.
Why Learning About Nutrition Is Important:
Swimming in the UK has seen a downturn in recent years, despite being the most popular sport among 5 to 10-year olds. In contrast more UK residents are making the switch to a healthier diet. The recent health crises have pushed 54% of consumers to invest their time and effort into learning more about practices that can boost their immunity, and this includes nutrition
For example, in the past few years, 33% of Brits started including more fruits and vegetables in their diets, while 32% increased their water intake. Yet, compared to other exercises such as weight lifting and running, more needs to be written or understood about the importance of nutrition for those who swim.
In fact, many casual swimmers will be more aware of when not to eat before they swim rather than what they can and should eat. In this blog post, we will look at the importance of proper nutrition when swimming.
Why is Proper Nutrition Important for Swimmers?
Proper nutrition is vital for swimmers. Maintaining energy levels, keeping away from fatigue, and accelerating the recovery process after the workout is essential. In fact, inadequate nutrition can seriously affect a swimmer’ performance.
Therefore, a swimmer must focus on well-balanced nutrition and hydration to improve energy levels and stay on top of the game. The same goes for water intake. Staying hydrated is as equally important as appropriate nutrition.
Proper nutrition fuels your body for a better performance.
Everyone knows the old saying that eating before you swim will make you sink. Well, although it’s not 100% true, eating too soon before a swim is not recommended. Since the reason for the saying has a proper background. Given that the horizontal swimming position can induce gastric influx, you must eat two to four hours before swimming.
A well-balanced diet containing appropriate carbohydrates and proteins is necessary before and after swimming sessions. It aids muscle recovery, supports your immune system, and restores your body after fatigue.
According to the National Library of Medicine, The recommended carbohydrate intake ranges between 6-10-12 g/kg/d, protein 2 g/kg/d, and fat should surpass 20-25% of the daily intake.
Facilitates your recovery after each swim.
Swimming is considered one of the best fat burners for a reason.
And after a swimming session, you’ll need to consume a diet rich in essential nutrients so your body can have all the ingredients it needs for the repair process. This includes carbohydrate sources, which can refuel your body after intense exercise.
Aside from that, you should consume around 20g of protein so that you can repair your muscle tissues and reduce any muscle soreness. You also need to make sure you’re picking healthy sources of carbohydrates and proteins to boost overall health, like vegetables, lean meats, fish, and fruits, along with adequate fluid intake. And the best idea for swimmers is to use foods rich in nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
Supports Your Weightloss Goals.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for losing weight because you can easily swim and burn calories without the pain of high-intensity exercise, making it ideal for every age. However, it can be tricky for beginners to craft a whole diet plan for their swimming performance and weight loss goals.
Rather than restricting your food options, you can follow a personalized weight loss program that can support your health and swimming goals. An individualized approach considers your budget, lifestyle, and food preferences, making it easier to stick to a healthier diet every day. Through this strategy, you can hit your weight goals and even gain the ability to improve your swimming speed and distance.
Nutrition Helps in Building Proper Muscle Strength.
Aside from maintaining a healthy weight, swimmers must also build muscle strength. Strong muscles will impact your performance by improving your swimming power and supporting your posture in the water.
Protein will be your best friend in this area since it’s responsible for your muscle growth and repair. However, don’t rely on protein supplements because excessive protein can lead to an increase in weight rather than muscle. Instead, you should include high-quality and lean protein sources in a healthy, varied diet to effectively enhance your muscle strength.
And last but not least, proper nutrition can help swimmers maintain a healthy weight by ensuring they are consuming the right balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and avoiding excess calories.
Diet Before Swimming Session
Most swimmers make the mistake of swimming empty stomach. Enjoy a healthy meal 2 to 3 hours before swimming, and you should take a diet rich in carbohydrates for quick energy and a portion of proteins to help in the recovery process. Water or fluid intake is also important to keep you hydrated. The fluid should be consumed 1 to 2 hours before the swim session to ensure adequate hydration.
So let’s see how each nutrient helps to improve swimming performance.
Carbohydrates are the fuel of the body. It is our body’s preferred source of energy. Carbohydrates are the immediate energy source for the body, which can be used and stored in the muscles as glycogen.
When glycogen level drops, your performance suffers. However, glycogen depletion can be avoided by regulating carbohydrate intake before, during, and after swimming sessions.
Eating food with low-GI carbohydrates, such as oats and grains, is a must because these can provide a steady amount of energy over a more extended time. Moreover, it’s a good idea for the Swimmers to consume a diet that’s high in complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes.
Eating fats makes you fat. Right? Wrong!
Eating healthy fats in adequate amounts doesn’t make you fat.
Healthy fats are an important part of the swimmer’s diet. It provides an energy source, helping absorb oil-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats are also crucial for proper brain functioning and producing hormones necessary for body functions.
Swimmers need at least 0.45 grams of fat per pound of body weight per day (1 g/kg/day).
It would be best if you chose fats like olive oil, Canola oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, and fish for swimming.
Protein is an integral part of all healthy diets. Exercises like swimming are even more critical because it aids in the post-exercise recovery process. It helps in the rebuilding of the muscles after a high-intensity workout.
Taking protein every three to four hours throughout the day is recommended as it plays a vital role in muscle building and healing.
As swimming is mostly an endurance sport, ensuring you have the right amount of energy to fuel your workout is essential.
Good protein sources include fish, chicken, turkey, beef, low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and soy.
However, if you are a vegetarian and don’t want to consume animal protein, you can take non-meat proteins like protein shakes, tempeh, tofu, cottage cheese, lentils, and nuts.
Good hydration and electrolyte balances are vital for muscle and nerve function. Electrolytes are the molecules that conduct electrical impulses, including sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. They are responsible for maintaining the body’s pH, regulating water flow in and out of the cells, and igniting nerve impulses.
Sodium maintains the water-mineral balance. Potassium, Calcium, and Sodium are responsible for muscle contractions, and magnesium maintains a regular heartbeat.
Muscle cramps mark electrolyte imbalance. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain electrolyte balance before swimming. An excellent natural source of electrolytes is fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables like corn, carrots, green beans, apricots, dates, oranges, and proper fluid intake can prevent electrolyte imbalance.
Importance of Hydration
Being well-hydrated is the key to successful performance at the pool. Even staying in the water all day but not taking enough water through drinking can be troublesome for the swimmer. In addition, high-intensity training sessions, heated pools, and high humidity can lead to dehydration.
Only 2% dehydration can have detrimental effects on your performance. Dehydration can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, muscle cramps, and flushed skin. Dehydration not only has physical effects but also adversely affects mental skills, like loss of focus and confused decisions.
To avoid dehydration, you should avoid taking caffeine, alcohol, and sugar at least two days before the swim session. These are natural diuretics.
To stay hydrated, it is recommended to drink 1.8 liters of fluid or even more throughout the day.
An easy marker for dehydration is the color of the urine a swimmer passes. A swimmer must pass clear urine if he is fully hydrated. Dark-colored urine with a restricted flow signals dehydration.
The temperature of water significantly affects the hydration levels of the body.
Swimming in cold water cause dehydration.
Cold water accelerates our metabolism because our body tries to maintain a healthy core temperature. That is why cold water can also cause dehydration.
Swimming in hot water or the hot ambiance causes a rise in the body’s core temperature resulting in fatigue and dehydration. When swimming in hot water, a combination of external and internal heat can cause hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is a condition in which our core body temperature is too high. By good hydration, you can avoid hyperthermia because an adequately hydrated body starts sweating, thereby cooling down the core body temperature.
Rough water conditions like wind, tides, and currents require more physical activity. It may also cause dehydration.
So staying hydrated is of prime importance to the swimmers.
A well-balanced, healthy diet and sufficient fluid intake are the most important components of good swimming performance. People may think that only professional swimmers need a special diet but that is not the case. The young kids who are in the process of learning to swim also need good and healthy food for better growth and performance. So if your child likes to spend his time in water it’s time to focus on the food he consumes.
If you want to improve your swimming strokes further, book a lesson with us at Swimcore to get in shape and master the four swimming strokes through our personal trainer programs.