#1: Make It A Habit
Eating Like a champion is the same as racing like a champion…it takes practice. This is the most important tip. Waiting until race week to eat healthy will create headaches for you and your swimmer.
#2: No New Foods
It’s all fun and games until somebody has diarrhea before a race. I know that eating the same foods might be boring, but at least you won’t have any surprise allergies or an upset stomachs to deal with
#3: Plan Plan Plan
There aren’t any rules that stop you from planning your meals in advance. Planning meals gives you one less thing to worry about.
#4: Get Ahead of Yourself
Don’t just plan your meals. Go one step further and make them in advance. There is no shame in freezing a whole pan of lasagna.
#5: Don't Dictate, Collaborate
The chances of your meals being received well increase drastically if your child is involved in choosing them in advance.
#6: Use the Magic Pot
One pot meals are huge time savers. Have a few recipes ready to go at all times. Just throw it all in and say the magic words.
#7: Timing Is Everything
You can pack all the right snacks, but if they are eaten at the right time they will hurt performance.
#8: Time the Carbs
Eating carbs is like using tissue paper to start a fire. It will give you quick energy, but it won’t last long. 60 minutes out, all snacks should be high in carbs instead of protein. (see list at bottom of post).
#9: Know Your Carbs
There are two types of carbs: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs (sports drinks/fruit/candy) are absorbed quickly and deliver a quick burst of energy. Complex carbs (veggies/potatoes/pasta) take longer to breakdown.
#10: Shake It Up
Thrown in a nutrient rich shake before bedtime to help their muscles recover while they sleep.
#11: Regulate Breakfast
Racing in the morning? Prepare a lighter breakfast. Racing later? Make it hearty
#12: Cut the sweets
The only extra sweet thing swimmers should taste during a swim meet is victory.
#13: Keep It Raw
Whenever you have the option, go for raw over processed foods. Processed foods often come with a lot of other ingredients “smuggled in”.
#14: Don't Give Concession
A concession stand’s primary goal is to make money, not provide healthy eating options. Keep that in mind.
#15: Release the Grease
If it’s fried, let it slide (not down your throat). If you have to fry something like eggs use olive oil.
#16: Don't get it Twisted
Carbs are not the same as sugar. Just like carbs, sugary foods will give you a brief burst of energy, but it will let you down hard. Sometimes even at the end of a race.
#17: Watch your Drinks
Speaking of sugar…Absolutely no sodas and soft drinks or energy drinks are allowed.
#18: Hold the Fiber
Our bodies need fiber, but remember #7? Timing is everything. Save the foods high in fiber for dinner time.
#19: Read the Labels
When choosing snacks, watch out for high amounts of sodium, sugar and caffeine. For example, cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, but it’s also a good source of sodium.
#20: Mix It Up
Even the perfect snack gets boring after a while. Use a good variety of snacks and meals so that eating healthy shouldn’t be a chore.
#21: Powder It Up
If you suspect a swimmer isn’t getting enough protein add some protein powder to a shake or something like coconut water. Don’t worry it won’t give them huge muscles overnight.
#22: Use Protein Power
For a slow and steady burn include more protein at big meals to keep swimmers feeling full longer.
#23: Drink It Up
Don’t wait too late to begin hydrating. It takes about 45 minutes to go from mildly dehydrated to normal hydration levels using pure water or gatorade.
#24: Don't Live In The Past
Urine color only tells you if you were hydrated, not if you are hydrated. After drinking, excess water has to enter the bloodstream and be filtered by the kidneys so that by the time a swimmer is ready to go to the loo they can be in a dehydrated state.
#25: Keep Sippin'
Feeling thirsty means a swimmer is already dehydrated. The goal is for swimmers to never have that feeling by continually sipping on liquids. The goal should be 6oz. every 15 minutes
#26: Sleep and Eat
Remember, timing is everything. If a session runs really late don’t sacrifice quality sleep by eating late. Both are important for recovery.
#27: Eat Fresh or Frozen
It is better to eat fresh veggies, but you can still get a lot of nutrition from frozen off-season vegetables. To keep the maximum amount of nutrients you should steam or microwave them.
#28: Go Super
Know your superfoods and throw them into meals often: Kale, Spirulina, Acai, Goji Berries, Chia Seeds, Seaweed, Maca Powder, Hemp seeds…
#29: Count Calories
Typically children need 1,500 – 2,400 calories but a young swimmer needs 2,700 – 3,600 calories every day. 55% of those calories should come from carbohydrates.