How to Eat During Taper Time

eat-food-neon-sign-tehusagent
Photo Courtesy: tehusagent, Flickr

By Tasija Karosas, Swimming World College Intern

We can see the light at the end of tunnel as taper approaches. During the short course championship season, sweat and tears clear the chlorine-filled air and are replaced by good moods and underwater selfies. All those weeks of grueling lactate sets, early morning practices, and backbreaking kick sets are about to come to an end. But as training changes in the pool and the weight room so must your eating habits!

It is common for athletes to have a difficult time figuring out how to fuel during taper. Even though practices are shorter and less intense, your metabolism may not let up. You may be eating as if you were still in peak training season. The main goal for taper is weight maintenance, which requires a change in eating habits.  Included below are a few basic guidelines for fueling while tapering that can help impact your end of the season meet.

Main courses:

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Photo Courtesy: Jessica Spengler, flickr

The general guidelines for the three main meals are to decrease grains and starchy vegetables and increase vegetable consumption. In a visual context your plate should still be full, but with different foods. Approximately half the plate should consist of fruits and less starchy vegetables, and a quarter of the plate should have an array of grains and/or starchy vegetables. The other quarter of the plate should consist of at least 20g protein. Many people make the mistake of eliminating any type of grain from their diet in order to maintain weight. Continuing to add these grains to your diet but reducing portion size will help with weight maintenance and carbo-loading. Remember that carbohydrates are still a main source of fuel!

Snacking:

Apple Nuts Study

Photo Courtesy: Katie Seaton

Trying to find a happy medium with snacks throughout the day can be hard enough when you are in full training mode, and adding taper into the mix can make it even more of a challenge! When you are eating a little bit less during the main courses you are more inclined to be hungry shortly after. For this reason packing snacks for the day that you prepared in the morning can be extremely beneficial. Small snacks like nuts, dried fruit, or pretzels can help satisfy your hunger and even allow you to eat a smaller lunch and dinner.

Dessert:

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Photo Courtesy: Lee McCoy

If you are someone who loves to indulge in something sweet at night, taper does not mean you should cut it out. Instead try to limit yourself. If you have the tendency to eat sweets every night try to eat something sweet every other night. In simple terms, lessen the amount of sweets you are eating. If you decide to cut out sweets completely, there is a good chance that you will find yourself binging on cookies and cake a few days later.

Recovery:

An assumption that people make about recovery is: taper practices are easier therefore recovery is not as important. To be blunt, this is wrong! During taper your body is recovering from the past six months of torment you have put it through. It is imperative that you continue to stretch, drink water, and fuel post practice.

Honing in on what your body needs during taper can have a dramatic effect on how you preform at the end of your season. Being mindful of how you are treating and fueling your body can make a substantial difference in the end of the season preformance and sometimes even make the taper blues go away!

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