Meal Plans for Swimmers

Girl swimming the crawl stroke
A swimmer needs 3,000 to 6,000 calories a day. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Swimming burns many calories. A swimmer needs 3,000 to 6,000 calories a day to maintain their weight, according to the American Dietetic Association. Competitive swim teams often practice twice a day, making meal planning essential. Swimmers need to eat before and after practice to fuel workouts. Eating small meals and snacks can help to reach calorie needs.

Carbohydrates

Close up shot of paddy crop
Grains are a good source of carbohydrates. (Image: Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The body utilizes carbohydrates for energy during exercise. They need to comprise the majority of a swimmer's meal plan. The American Dietetic Association recommends 2.3 to 3.6g per lb. of body weight a day. Thus, a 150-lb. swimmer would need 345 to 540g. Sources include grains, fruits, vegetables and cereals. Swimmers can include 8 oz. of orange juice, 1 cup of oatmeal, 1 slice of toast and 8 oz. of milk. This provides 75g of carbohydrates, according to the Colorado State University Extension. A sample lunch could include two slices of bread for a sandwich, 8 oz. of milk, 8 oz. of apple juice and two cookies. This meal provides 81g of carbohydrates according to the Colorado state University. Extension. Eating 3 cups of spaghetti, 1 cup of tomato sauce, two slices of bread and 1/2 cup of ice cream provides 156g. Snacks can include 16 oz. of grape juice and six fig cookies, which provides 164g. This sample meal plan provides 476g of carbohydrates for the day.

Protein

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A sandwich stacked with lunch meats can boost protein intake. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Protein fuels growth, maintenance and repair for the body. Fish, chicken, nuts, eggs, beef, milk and cheese provide high quality sources. Swimmers need 0.55 to 0.8g per lb. of body weight, according to the American Dietetic Association. A 150-lb. swimmer needs 82 to 120g of protein a day. Swimmers can include milk with meals to boost intake. Using almonds on salads or including meat with dinner helps swimmers reach their needs. An ounce of meat provides 7g per serving. Sandwiches with lunch meats can raise protein intake. Some shakes and drink powders include a high amount of this nutrient. Swimmers can use these to supplement the diet as well.

Water

Woman drinking glass of water
Swimmers need to be sure to drink plenty of fluids. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Swimmers need to drink at least a cup of fluid with each meal and snack throughout the day. Swimmers sweat in the water, which causes fluid loss. Chilled fluids lower body temperature and are absorbed faster, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Swimmers need to drink 2 cups of fluid before practice. Swimmers should drink 5 to 10 oz. of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during practice. Swimmers can consume a sports drink when practicing more than one hour to help replace carbohydrate loss. Swimmers should weigh themselves before and after practice to determine the weight lost from fluids. They need to drink 3 cups for every pound lost.

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