Thought I would share my recent experiments and findings on a swimming diet that works for me. Let me know what you do and how I may up the ante to get more out of my training sessions. I have tried to divide it up between before, during and after swimming.

Before I swim

Following an overnight fast (sleep), it is important that I boost my depleted blood sugar and liver glycogen levels if they are to make optimal gains from their training session. However, it is also important that the stomach is relatively empty, so you don’t get cramp.

Therefore, it is important to try and consume 100-200 calories immediately on waking, but in an easily digestible form, for example:

  • 300-500ml carbohydrate – electrolyte sports drink.
  • 1 fruit Smoothie plus extra water.
  • 1 thick sl. Toast and jam plus water or squash.
  • 1 banana and water or squash.

Some of my swimmer friends insist that they simply can’t tolerate eating before a training session

Whilst I swim

For early morning training sessions when there is little time to pre-fuel and sessions lasting longer than 60 minutes, a swimmer will be able to sustain a higher work rate for longer by taking onboard carbohydrate in the form of a 6% carbohydrate sports drink (0.5-1.0l / hour; commercial or home made) or sports gels (1-2 plus 0.5-1.0L water/ hour). Studies have shown that swimmers participating in high intensity pool sessions, lose on average, 600ml of sweat / hour.

After I swim

When training on consecutive days or within the same day, starting to refuel and rehydrate as soon as possible after finishing a swim can accelerate recovery and reduce the risk of fatigue. I usually aim to consume a recovery drink or a snack containing 50-75g of carbohydrate within 15-30 minutes along with additional fluids.

Good recovery snacks I like are:
A Belvita breakfast biscuit.
500ml of recovery drink or low fat chocolate milk.
2-3 slices banana bread or malt loaf and an isotonic drink.
Low fat rice pudding or breakfast cereal with raisins and fluids. This can be followed with a more substantial meal or snack at work / home 2 hours later.

What do you like to eat when swim training?

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