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Eating For The Big Day

~what to eat on race day~

No matter what sport you play your body is the engine you use to compete, and food is your fuel. In order to work optimally, an engine needs high quality fuels, and you are no different. Proper nutrition is essential to perform to the best of your ability in training and competition alike. Due to the rigorous demands of the sport, swimmers often need even more complete diets than other athletes. This is especially important to keep in mind going into a meet.

 

Exact nutritional needs often vary from person to person. Though overall, everyone needs the same building blocks to function, broken up into micronutrients and macronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals, and play a variety of complex roles within the structures of your body. Macronutrients are less complex, as there are only three of them. They are protein, which allows muscles to recover and grow, carbs, which provide energy to the body, and fats, which are needed for a variety of functions.

Meet nutrition is mostly derived from the meals eaten leading up to the meet itself. The muscles will use the energy stored from these previous days as their fuel source for your swims. Though what you eat the day of is important as well, especially if the meet lasts more than one day.

 

A good pre meet meal should have a balance of macronutrients, and should be eaten several hours before swimming to ensure all food has been digested enough to have left the stomach. Otherwise oxygenated blood that could be going to your muscles will instead be used to help digestion when it’s time to race. The meal should be mostly carbs, with oatmeal, bagels, and

pancakes being good examples.

 

 

Studies show...

that being just

slightly dehydrated-

with a reduction

of just 2% of fluid,

can lower a swimmer's

performance

by a much as 20%

Also, it is important to remember to eat at the meet. If you find yourself with a long break between sessions, or somehow have a few hours between swims, have something small, and preferably easy to digest while you wait. 
These should also be high in carbs if you can help it. If you have less time on your hands, stick to water, protein drinks, watered down juices or sports drinks. Making sure you stay hydrated during the meet is one of the most important things you can do.
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