This is the day you've been preparing for all season long. You've spent hours perfecting your technique, repeated drills with your coach, and put in extra hours of practice sessions to ensure that you're going to have an awesome performance at the meet. Well don't let a few diet pitfalls derail months of preparation; watch out for these eating mistakes swimmers make on race day and stay healthy for the big event!
Swimming at top levels is dependent on your routines so keep your diet, eating habits, meal times, and hydration levels as close to normal as possible. If you are going to make any adjustments to your nutrition plan, the time to do so is at the beginning of the season, not the day of the race.
Don’t experiment with high fiber foods on race day; fiber is great for overall health, but you don't want to have too much the night before or the day of the race. That includes beans and bran cereals - it's best to avoid these on the day of the meet. But don't avoid all sources of fiber like fruits and veggies, which you should eat in modest portions. Keep it small and eat something your body is used to. Try one cup of pineapple, a handful of cherries, or a few broccoli florets.
Also, stay away from overloading on carbs the night before and the day of the race. Flooding your system with more carbs than it can process may lead to digestive problems while you sleep and prevent you from swimming at your best the next day. A well balanced dinner like pasta primavera with chicken, for instance, is a great dish that has the right amount of carbs but also provides a balance of other vitamins and nutrients. Include your favorite veggies and go light on any acidic vegetables like tomatoes, that might give you nausea. Additionally, a light snack eaten a couple of hours prior to bed can help stock muscles with adequate glycogen stores to ensure optimal energy levels the next day at the meet. Something like our Nutriboost shake or plain yogurt mixed with berries and a handful of granola should suffice a few hours after eating a well-balanced dinner meal.
Too many swimmers make the mistake of skipping breakfast on the day of a big meet because they are in a hurry with last minute preparations, or they just feel too nervous to eat. But breakfast, either at home or on the road, is the metabolism boost every swimmer needs. Studies show that a pre-race meal keeps your blood sugar steady and provides energy to power you through. Waiting to fuel up in the middle of the day is not going to get you enough fuel midrace to make up for the energy you missed at breakfast. If you are competing in the morning, be sure to keep it light. Opt for a heavier breakfast if competition is in the afternoon. Try different breakfasts on the days leading up to the race to see what sits well in your system. Instant oatmeal made with skim or low fat milk, toast with nut butter, dry cereal, yogurt and fruit are all healthy options that rev up the body, and if you're too nervous to eat solid food, drink a smoothie with some fruit and milk.
Not packing enough snacks
Many swimmers forget to pack snacks , don't bring enough, or eat the wrong ones. Snacks should be small bits of food that give you some energy in between your races, not meal replacements. A good snack might have a bit of protein and carbs. Protein will be an ally in keeping your blood sugar stable, thus keeping hunger, energy and mood in check. Easily digestible snacks like lowfat cheese sticks, nuts, yogurt, boxes of low fat milk, hummus, or a hard-boiled egg. And don’t forget to pack the carbohydrates. Your muscles rely on carbs for fuel. Pack easily digestible sources such as 100% juice, applesauce, fresh or dried fruit, or veggie sticks. Bring a couple of sources of more complex carbohydrate foods too, such as crackers, unsweetened dry cereal, pita or other breads, pretzels and graham crackers. Definitely stay away from snacks that have refined sugars such as soda, candy and desserts on race day. Having your own stash of healthy snacks will make you less likely to munch on concession stand purchases that you shouldn't be eating.
Avoiding these three mistakes will help you have a stellar swim performance and stay on the path to swim success!