Of all the ways to promote fitness, swimming has to be one of the best. Few activities can give you the kind of full-body workout that swimming provides, and it helps with weight loss by burning hundreds of extra calories. However, it’s important that this energy expenditure is countered with proper nutrition and an adequate number of calories; otherwise, a swimmer can find themselves without the kinds of fuel reserves it takes to maintain their peak performance in the pool. Considering all the choices at swimmers’ pruney fingertips, it’s no surprise that some struggle to come up with meal plans that can effectively fulfill the demands placed on their bodies, which starts with identifying what foods are best for a swimmer’s diet. So, you might be wondering, what foods are good for swimmers? To find out, keep reading as the team at aminoVITAL® – makers of amino acid supplements for swimmers – answers this key question.
What Should a Teenage Swimmer Eat?
Although the ages of swimmers run the gamut from old to young, many enter into the sport as children or teenagers, a time in life when interests are first being formed. Although the demands of swimming are roughly the same from one age group to the next – the same muscles are worked, the same effort is required to maintain a certain pace – the nutritional needs of teenage swimmers differ from those of a full-grown, healthy adult.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics1, teen boys need to get about 2,800 calories each day, on average, and teen girls need around 2,200 – and that’s just the baseline amount needed to ensure proper growth. Add in the energy requirements associated with swimming, and you could easily be looking at well over 3,000 calories a day for a teenage swimmer. Aside from that, nourishing a teen swimmer is mostly a matter of maintaining a balanced nutritional profile, one made up mostly of complex carbs, followed by lean protein and unsaturated fats.
Are Bananas Good for Swimmers?
One favorite snack for many athletes, including swimmers, is bananas; not only are they easy to carry to a competition, but they can be eaten on the go and provide some much-needed fuel in the form of carbs. In fact, bananas offer some unique benefits because they’re a mix of simple and complex carbs, and they offer nutrients like fiber and potassium, too. As they ripen, the fiber in bananas turns to natural sugar, so depending on what you want to get out of them, bananas could have more or less fiber and sugar in them.
Complex carbs in foods like bananas are great for swimmers because they take longer to digest, which means that they provide energy over a longer period of time instead of right away. Over the course of a meet, these carbs could help power you through heat after heat, but you’ll need to have your banana about an hour beforehand if you want to reap the benefits. This will give your body time to break down the banana, and it’ll help you avoid gastric distress in the pool, too.
Is Rice Good for Swimmers?
Unlike bananas, which you can take with you to a meet at a moment’s notice, rice would seem to offer fewer advantages to swimmers, but it’s worth examining the role of this food in a swimmer’s diet. Like bananas, rice is a source of carbs, but there are two common types that offer different benefits: white rice and brown rice.
Because it’s digested and absorbed quickly, white rice is considered a simple carb, and the energy it provides tends to be somewhat fleeting. Brown rice, on the other hand, is much more nutritious, and as with other whole grains, it takes the body much longer two process brown rice compared to the white variety. For swimmers with an afternoon meet, this delayed release of energy can make brown rice a great addition to the lunch menu, as long as you give yourself an hour or more between eating and competing.
Why Swimmers Need Amino Acids
Due to the cardio-heavy nature of swimming, swimmers tend to have lean physiques, rather than bulky ones, which means less muscle mass overall. Still, this doesn’t mean that amino acids aren’t good for swimmers – quite the opposite, in fact. As a swimmer propels themselves through the water, the physical forces involved can cause the development of tiny tears in the muscle tissue, wounds that needs to be healed; in addition, the high energy demands of swimming sometimes force the body to break muscle proteins down for fuel.
To effectively repair this damage, your body will need the building blocks of new muscle tissue – amino acids, particularly the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The first of these, leucine, is especially effective at encouraging repairs because it triggers the process of muscle protein synthesis, which is how your body creates new muscle cells. The BCAAs can also help prevent much of this muscle damage in the first place by serving as backup fuel while your exercise; your system can oxidize the amino acids instead of breaking down tissue. For swimmers, who place a lot of strain on their bodies on a regular basis, this protection makes pre-workout amino acid supplements an especially effective choice for nutritional support.
Try an aminoVITAL® Supplement for Swimmers to Protect the Muscles and Improve Performance
To build and maintain the kind of lean muscle that swimming demands, it’s important to use a supplement with the right nutritional profile. Amino acid supplements from aminoVITAL® come with no sugar and include electrolytes (and some carbs, in the case of our Rapid Recovery mix) to help your body bounce back after a long day of swimming. Learn more about why aminoVITAL® products are good for swimmers by visiting us online or calling (888) 264-6673 today.