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4 Perfect Pre-Practice Foods

us-navy-dive
Photo Courtesy: US Navy

By Emma Merrill, Swimming World College Intern

All swimmers should be well-informed about the best pre-practice foods. It’s important to fuel up appropriately before a morning practice in order to maximize your performance in the pool.

According to Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, pre-exercise fuel has four primary functions. Eating before exercise prevents low blood sugar, fuels your muscles, fills your stomach, and provides the relaxed confidence that comes from knowing your body is ready to perform. Plus it prevents the “hangry” swimmer (aka one that’s angry from hunger).

A Small Snack is Better Than Nothing

You might be the type of person who doesn’t like to eat right after the alarm clock goes off (apparently these people DO exist). If so, Clark suggests at least a 100-calorie snack before working out in order to perform your best. Even a small snack can ward off the fatigue accompanying low blood sugar that may sneak up on you over the course of a night’s sleep.

Timing Your Fuel-Up

It’s a question that runs through every competitive swimmer’s mind. You don’t want to be bogged down by something heavy sitting in your stomach when you dive in the water at 6 a.m. At the same time there’s nothing more painful than attempting to swim several thousand yards on an empty stomach. USA Swimming’s Chris Rosenbloom, a published dietician, says that swimmers should aim for a healthy meal about 3-4 hours before hopping in the pool. But, he says if you’re crunched for time before a morning practice, aim to eat a minimum of 30 grams of carbs to maximize performance.

Here are four pre-workout foods that will take your practice or race to the next level! And don’t worry, just like with recovery foods, pre-practice snacks can be both nutritious and delicious!

Pre-Practice Foods

1. Bagels

Bagels

Photo Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

These carbohydrate bombs are the perfect fuel for a hungry swimmer’s breakfast a few hours before the start of a practice or meet. Remember, carbs are energy, and the complex carbs in a bagel will provide hours of much needed energy for a swimmer. Pair your favorite bagel (whole wheat if you’re feeling extra healthy) with peanut butter for an added protein boost and you’ve set yourself up for some fast swimming.

2. Smoothies

Smoothies

Photo Courtesy: flickr.com

Smoothies are delicious. Lucky for swimmers, they are also a great way to fuel up before jumping in the pool! Rosenbloom notes that liquids like fruit smoothies are easy to digest and that most contain calcium and vitamin C. That makes them ideal for those that have a hard time holding down solid food during a long aerobic set.

3. Energy Gels

EnergyGel

Photo Courtesy: flickr.com

These small gel packs containing around 100 calories each will provide you with the energy boost you need to push through practice. A study carried out by John G. Seifert and Rochelle McKenzie on a group of NCAA DII swimmers in Minnesota found that energy gels can improve swimmers’ performances for an intense training session. The results of their study suggest that consuming a carbohydrate and protein packed gel may help maintain speed and reduce muscular fatigue.

4. Bananas

Photo Courtesy: Flickr

Photo Courtesy: flickr.com

Nothing fancy here. A banana is the ideal quick pre-practice snack. Since they provide 30 grams of carbs, lots of potassium, and are conveniently packaged, Rosenbloom calls bananas the original fast food. And if you are so inclined, you could always add some peanut butter for added protein and yumminess factor. Trust me people, you are so inclined.

These foods are good potential options for pre-practice or race fuel; however, it’s important to keep in mind that everybody is different. Just because your friend got his Olympic Trials cut after eating a bagel doesn’t mean that you should only eat bagels every time you have practice or a meet.

What is important is that you find the pre-workout foods that work for YOU, and that you eat them an appropriate amount of time before you swim.

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21 Comments
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Jocelyne Humbert O'Kane

No. 4 at a meet, watched the team split a bunch amongst themselves. In unison, open banana, break in half and pass it on without a word uttered.

Seiya Residente
8 years ago

A partir de mañana. ????

Darcy Kagelmann Walczak

Well will have to get up to eat even earlier . Lol

Abdullah Khan Swimmer
8 years ago

nyc i like swimming

Lance Robinson
8 years ago

Quinoa does it for me likenothing else

Oline Stehr
8 years ago

Evonne Stehr

Jose Antonio
8 years ago

Monica Alderete

Jaden Harris
8 years ago

Aiden Smith

Jaden Harris
8 years ago

Aiden Smith

Gustavo
Gustavo
8 years ago

What about avocados?

Rasha Saad
8 years ago

Mariam El-Taweel

Fred Dever
8 years ago

Twizzlers

John Crouch
8 years ago

Go Jackson

Mitch Mccallum
8 years ago

Rachel Carroll Callum Gilroy Matthew Douglas Rebecca Douglas Ryan James Dixon William Telford Daniel Weightman

Laura Stepan Wert
8 years ago

What? Frozen waffles aren’t on the list?!

Nancy Elgharib
8 years ago

Amr Fathy

Anton
Anton
8 years ago

Every sport nutritionist suggested to eat 2-3 hours before practice/meet. But my practices start at 7am and so do the meets. To be able to eat a few hours BEFORE, I would need to get up at 3am. How is that possible?

Mako
Mako
11 months ago
Reply to  Anton

Hi,

For early morning practices, I eat 1 or 2 dates with almonds. Dates are low GI and they will release their sugar slowly into your blood and almonds regulate blood sugar levels. Hope this helps.

Aguinaldo Silva
Aguinaldo Silva
1 year ago

I eat a sweet potato, yoghurt with honey and some papaya before practice. I also carry a banana in my bag and eat right after the session.

Mako
Mako
11 months ago

This is the wrongest advice. None of these foods will give you healthful energy. They will only spike your blood sugar level and you will experience a huge sugar crash.

I would suggest having a date with some organic activated almonds as dates are low GI, which means they release their sugar slowly into your blood and they do not give you sugar spikes. Almonds regulate your blood sugar levels.

Bagels are ultra processed with a lot of chemicals and additives.

Smoothies and energy gels are all sugar.

Bananas are good but high GI which means they release their sugar immediately and all at once giving you a sugar high and distressing your system.

Mako
Mako
11 months ago

Also instead of talking to a dietitian or a nutritionist, go to a naturopath. I find that naturopaths are the best people to talk to when it comes to vitamins, minerals and nutritional information.

You may find this site helpful for information about food and other ways of improving your wellbeing: LivenUpp

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