It's finally here and you've spent hours preparing, working on your technique, and fine-tuning your nutrition plan to be at your best. What you eat right before the race is just as important, so we've put together some meal ideas that will keep you going throughout the day. In general, pre-race meals for swimmers should not be the only thing you rely on to power you through the day. Energy stored in your muscles from nutrient-rich meals eaten during the previous few days, and even the night before, will power you up. And don't forget to pack some nutritional snacks to get you through the day!
Even if there's an early start to your first race, do not skip breakfast. Breakfast is the metabolism boost every swimmer needs and should be about 500-1000 calories, depending on your body type and weight. Keep it light if your first race is early or opt for a heavier breakfast if your race competition is in the afternoon.
Try: Instant oatmeal made with skim or low fat milk, whole grain toast with nut butter, dry cereal with yogurt and fruit, or a whole grain waffle with sliced fruit and cottage cheese. To drink, enjoy a glass of water or all natural fruit juice.
If it's mid-day and you've got enough time in between races, here's some more meal ideas. Just make sure that you allow 2 hours for food to properly digest so that it doesn't interrupt your performance.
Try: Whole grain pasta salad with some of your favorite vegetables and a low fat sauce, a small sandwich made on whole grain bread with lean turkey and a slice of low-fat cheese, or a mixed green salad with your favorite veggies and a side of brown rice. And don't forget to hydrate with a glass of water, milk, or all natural fruit juice.
Don't overeat just because it's getting to be later in the day. Smart snacking throughout the day will help eliminate this possibility. Stick with small portion sizes and don't forget to allow that 2 hour window of digestion time in between races. You don't want to get lazy with your meal choices at the end of the day.
Try: Whole wheat spaghetti with low fat meat sauce or a lean piece of chicken, a black bean burrito with your favorite veggies, a lean piece of chicken with potatoes or rice and a few vegetables. It's still important to hydrate at the end of the race, so have a glass of water to keep your body in top shape up until the end.
The night before
What you eat the night before is just as important as what you eat before you dive in the pool. Ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed and that your muscles and body have fully recovered by providing those critical nutrients in a meal before bedtime. Try our Nutriboost shake that is a low-calorie, nutritionally dense complete food source, containing over 29 nutrients to maximize your recovery and health.
And definitely avoid having any of these as your pre-race meals. They will only upset your stomach and derail your performance in the pool.
- Processed sugar. Besides giving you a short-lived energy spike, sugar creates a host of other health problems.
- "Energy" drinks. If you need additional energy, get it from food and stay away from these drinks that might have banned substances.
- High fiber foods. Don't make your stomach and digestive system work overtime on the day of the meet. Save the high fiber for another day.
- New foods. Race day is not the time to try new foods and experiment. Stick to what your system is used to and avoid nausea.
Now that you have some ideas of pre-race meals for swimmers, and foods to watch out for, start planning your nutrition for a winning performance!