Recovery Nutrition for Swimming
Swimmers are renowned for their high training volumes, typically training twice per day, and as a result have some of the highest energy expenditures of any athlete. From a nutrition perspective, this means that consuming enough calories (energy) is the most important factor for optimal performance. As well as supporting high training demands and quick recovery, sufficient energy intake is also essential for optimal health. Not getting ill, getting fitter and stronger, not getting injured and generally having healthy hair, nails and skin are all reliant on getting enough daily energy (kcal) from the diet. Setting calorie targets that are appropriate for the individual and monitoring bodyweight as a method of knowing whether ‘energy in’ matches ‘energy out’ is an easy and simple method to use to appropriately set targets.
After a swimmer has taken care of their energy requirements, the next most important aspect of nutrition to nail down is protein intake. Getting enough high quality protein can help swimmers muscles to adapt and grow stronger . The improved training adaptations can lead to better overall performance; put simply, faster swimming. Using a high quality whey protein (such as ON GOLD STANDARD 100% WHEY) after a training session can help provide the protein needed to help muscles repair, adapt and grow after the intense demands placed on them by a typical swim-training regime. Also, having some slow-digesting protein (such as ON GOLD STANDARD 100% CASEIN™) before bed can help with muscle maintenance during an overnight fast (typically the longest period an athlete goes for without food) .
While energy and macronutrient intakes are key predictors of optimal performance, there is also one micronutrient that can have a profound effect on an athlete’s general health if it is not prioritised; Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has become increasingly common within the UK and is particularly a problem for any athlete that trains indoors, such as a swimmer. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to suppressed immune function, and low bone mineral density, which can lead to injury. Obtaining optimal vitamin D levels by targeted sun exposure or supplementing Vitamin D is therefore important for health, including that of swimmers [3,4].
- Phillips (2012) Dietary protein requirements and adaptive advantages in athletes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23107527
- Res et al. (2012) Protein ingestion before sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22330017
- Shuler et al. (2012) Sports health benefits of Vitamin D. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC34979...
- Lewis et al. (2013) The effects of season-long vitamin D supplementation on collegiate swimmers and divers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23475128