As swimmers, we can get away with eating pretty much anything we want. Food is fuel, and fuel is what we need to workout as much as we do. But, there are some things we can be more aware of that will make us feel better in the water, and that will give us more energy.
Long ago, I realized that eating the traditional three meals a day wasn’t going to cut it. So I added snacks. And desserts. And soft drinks. And candy. Soon I found that I was getting more and more tired regardless of what I ate. And my heart rate was generally through the roof. Eating the wrong things made me feel sluggish. Eating the right things can make us faster swimmers.
The latest diet fad is cutting out carbs. This is ironic because I remember that when I was a kid, "carbo-loading" was thought to be absolutely necessary before a big meet. And not too long ago everyone was trying to cut out fat from his or her diet. BLA, these things apply to old overweight people. Not swimmers. You shouldn’t cut anything OUT of your diet. Some foods are better than others. Vegetables are the best. The greener the vegetable, the more energy you have. A nutritionist at Auburn told me that there is more energy in a cup of broccoli than there is in a Powerbar.
What works well for me is this: Rather than eat three or four big meals a day, I eat six or seven snacks. I say snacks because they aren’t really a full meal. Think of nutrition like a campfire. Pretend you’re in the woods and you have a limited amount of firewood. If you took all the firewood and made a huge fire, burning it all at once, then you really wouldn’t be left with much but ashes after a very short time. Not to mention you would get really hot and then really cold very quickly. Instead, you would make a small fire, and add wood as the fire dwindled. Snacks versus meals are the same way. If you eat a huge meal, you have all this energy for a short period, and then you’re just dead tired. (Big fire, down to ashes). By eating snacks throughout the day, the fire is kept alive all day long. No major energy swings.
I try to get a balance of these key items in every snack: a fat, a protein, a carbohydrate. You can really start to overanalyze this stuff, but if you have a cracker, with hummus and some turkey, that’s a good snack. If you use your imagination, you can come up with all kinds of snacks that combine the three key items, and that way you won’t get bored with what you eat. Besides, if you eat the same four things every day, it’s hard to get all those important trace vitamins and minerals. If you don’t like vegetables (like me), do shots of V8. Not the fruit juice, the vegetable juice. Veggies are key.
The best part is, people will see you eating all day long and wonder how you keep that amazing figure. It’s our little secret.