Diet for Swimmers
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise since it combines the benefits of a cardiovascular workout with natural resistance training. Depending on your lifestyle, you may take a few lazy laps around the pool or jump into a lively ocean. In all cases, you will need controlled, disciplined breathing and enough muscle power to tackle the water resistance. Swimming burns up a lot of calories, making it important to have a special diet for swimmers.
If you are a serious swimmer, you need to make sure your body has enough energy to tackle all those laps.
We are used to calculating all our food energy in calories and this information is easily available for different foods and food products. However, you should also make yourself an expert on nutrition before feeding swimmers. For example, a beer may have lots of energy (calories), but has zero nutrition. For a serious swimmer, these ‘empty calories’ have no value. The reason is that swimming places certain demands on the body, which requires unique nutrition for swimmers.
Protein is usually present in any meal plan for swimmers. This is essential to help your muscles recover from the strain of swimming. Protein also aids in the process of strengthening your muscles and adding muscle mass. The best swimmers know that a high muscle-to-fat ratio is the key to speed and agility in the water. This means that a diet for swimmers should include a rich protein source, while minimizing fat content. Lean meat or fish are good options for feeding swimmers a protein rich diet, but you may want to grill or broil them to reduce overall fat content. If you are planning a vegetarian diet for swimmers, you have several options for natural proteins, including soya, cereals, pulses, seeds, and nuts.
Carbohydrates are also important in planning the right nutrition for swimmers. This is because carbohydrates are directly responsible for providing us with immediate energy. To begin with, the human body is designed to break down the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. These sugars form the short-term “fuel” of the body and are used first in any physical activity. If an excess of energy is left over, it is converted to fat and stored in the body. Some people target weight loss by trying to force the body to use up this “fat energy” by avoiding carbohydrates. However, this has the opposite effect, since the body is tricked into “starvation mode” and begins storing all new calories as fat. This leads to reduced stamina and weaker muscles; strictly to be avoided by serious swimmers! A good meal plan for swimmers includes both simple and complex carbohydrates; the simple ones are needed for immediate energy while the complex ones deliver long-term stamina.
Finally, let’s not overlook water! Strange as it may seem, some swimmers have actually suffered from dehydration while surrounded by water. This can cause painful muscle cramps, which can be potentially fatal in the wrong circumstances. Dehydration also affects your vital internal organs and the ability of your body to carry oxygen-rich blood from your lungs. Your skin will also get dry and rough, making it more likely to get sunburn. A daily diet for swimmers must include ample of water, with increased amounts on swim days. You can also opt for a sports beverage with essential salts and amino acids. At home, you can create your own natural sports drink by simply mixing a spoon each of sugar and salt in a glass of water. Of course, if you plan to modify your diet you should consult your physician to ensure you’ve made the right choices.