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By Our Secret Swimmum

Us Scots are notorious for our poor diet.  We eat too much sugar and fat and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre.  It is a well-recognised phenomenon in public health that there is a huge gap between what we know we should be eating and what we actually eat. 

Oranges PoolEveryone knows the 5-a-day message for fruit and vegetables it has been around for decades, yet in Scotland only 22% of adults and 15% of children achieve it.  Quite alarming!

But feeding a family healthily can be quite a challenge.  Many have found it easier during lockdown, when we were in the house anyway with less running around to work and hobbies and less fast food temptation. 

And sadly a lot uf us have found it much more difficult income has been affected or illness has struck.

It has also become clear that during lockdown our snacking rates have increased and we are turning to sugary snacks out of boredom. But good nutrition can make a big difference to our health, our wellbeing and our training programmes. 

Now is the right time to think about nutrition and eating well as this will ensure swimmers are ready to get back in the pool. 

Below are some links to resources and advice on nutrition for children, young people and adults involved in sports and/or swimming.  Many of them are from other countries so may refer to different foods or different nutritional guidelines.  However, the principles will remain the same throughout.  The documents have many similar key messages

  • Active adults and children need a balanced diet with wholegrain carbohydrates and protein
  • Always aim to eat before training sessions even if they are early morning sessions to ensure you have fuel in your body. For early morning sessions aim for something light but carbohydrate based if possible.
  • For evening training - ideally eat 2-3 hours prior to training with a carbohydrate-based meal
  • Eating some carbs and protein within a 30min to 1-hour window - the sooner the better - of the training session's end, will help recovery. If that means having snacks ready for the car journey home, then plan that in.
  • Well balanced diets can deliver all the nutrients needed
  • Junior swimmers may benefit from protein distributed throughout the day rather than just 1 or 2 large servings at mealtimes
  • Avoid fatty foods before competitions and training as they are more difficult to digest
  • Hydration is really important and needs to be throughout the day. Water is all that is needed for good hydration.  Sports drinks are rarely needed
  • Carbonated drinks before, during or after exercise are not a good idea as it reduces the desire for water
  • Planning and preparation are key

Pineapple PoolDo visit these links as they provide lots of ideas for meals and snacks that are a good balance of the carbs and protein needed.  They also give lots of tips for competition days. 

Please remember these resources all provide general advice. 

If you have any specific nutritional needs or require a tailored programme, then you should always seek the advice of a registered nutritionist or dietitian.

It’s equally important that food is enjoyed and valued so spend time with your family exploring tastes and new recipes.  This time out of the pool is the perfect time for experimentation and planning!

For Junior and Adolescent Swimmers/Athletes

Sports Dietitians Australia have good resources

Advice from Anita Bean, well known sports nutritionist

Advice from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) 

Some practical tips from the USA (Naval Academy Aquatic Club)

Adult or Non-age Specific Advice

Sports Dietitians Australia

Advice from British Swimming