Competitive swimmers need to fuel properly prior to swim meets to ensure optimal performance. Swimming is a sport that requires strength, endurance and adequate fuel intake to provide the body with energy. In addition to a generally healthy diet plan and regular fitness training, the foods you eat the night prior to a swim meet can help you perform your best. Consult with a health professional or athletic coach to ensure your meal selections best suit your individual needs.
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Carbohydrates are the body and brain's primary source of fuel. Inadequate carb intake can lead to depleted glycogen stores in the muscles, which decreases athletic performance. Negative effects of low carb intake also include dizziness, weakness, fatigue, lethargy, nausea and possible fainting. Swimmers should select complex carbs the night before a meet and avoid simple, processed carbs that cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall, leading to energy crashes and sugar cravings. Complex carbs provide a steady source of energy to the body and include whole-grains such as pasta, brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread. Stick to portion sizes to avoid eating too many calories that can disrupt sleep and slow digestion.
Swimmers should incorporate foods that are moderate in protein the night before a swim meet. Protein is an essential nutrient needed in the body for the growth, development and maintenance of muscle and body tissue. Protein also stabilizes blood sugar levels to satiate the appetite and prevent you from overeating too many foods that can lead to digestive upset, including bloating, flatulence and belly-aches. Combine a lean source of protein into your dinner meal such as a serving of grilled or roasted chicken breast with whole-grain pasta or baked salmon with asparagus and brown rice.
The evening before a swim meet, it is best to eat foods that are low in fat. High-fat foods slow down digestion, which can lead to constipation, gas and sluggishness. Low-fat foods do not take as long to digest in the stomach, which decreases the risks of waste materials and undigested foods sitting in the stomach to ferment. Stick to a low-fat meal and snacks by avoiding foods that have been cooked in excess oils, creams and sauces. Rather, use herbs and seasonings to flavor a meal of chicken and rice or a simple pasta dish served with a simple tomato sauce versus fettuccine Alfredo.
A light snack eaten a couple of hours prior to bed can help stock muscles with adequate glycogen stores to ensure optimal energy levels. Avoid eating too close to bedtime as digestive processes may disrupt the sleep cycle leading to insomnia and increased fatigue the next day. Stick to simple, low-fat foods that also are low in dietary fiber as fiber takes longer to digest as well. A small bowl of cereal in low-fat or skim milk or plain yogurt mixed with berries and a handful of granola should suffice a few hours after eating a well-balanced dinner meal.
- "Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition: Fourth Edition"; Joy Bauer, M.S. R.D., C.D.N.; 2005
- Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, 2nd Edition; Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D.; 1996