Wellness Wednesday: Following the Proper Diet for a Successful Taper


Wellness Wednesday: Following the Proper Diet for a Successful Taper

There are many different approaches to preparing for a big competition, but the most important factor in ensuring a successful swim taper is to eat enough. While it may seem obvious, many swimmers underestimate the amount of fuel their bodies need to perform at their best. Swimming is a high-intensity sport that requires a lot of energy, so it is crucial to consume enough fuel to sustain your body throughout the meet or competition.

To help you stay on track, here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

  1. The muscles need time to recover and repair, so no decreases in fuel units (calories) are needed within the first seven days of a taper for most females and 14 days for most males.
  2. It is important not to lose weight during this time.
  3. To ensure you’re consuming enough calories, it’s critical to eat 4-6 times a day with high-quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates every time. Teenage females average 2,500-3,000 fuel units, and teenage males average 4,000-4,500 fuel units daily. Adults differ, depending on many factors.
  4. Try to consume at least 20-30 g of protein minimally 30 minutes before bed or within two hours of dinner if eating late, accompanied by complex carbs, fruit and healthy fats. If young, go with one-half that amount.
  5. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day and get enough sodium to maximize recovery and stay properly hydrated. A rule of thumb is to consume half your weight in fluid ounces a day plus 10-20 oz of fluids per hour per activity. Athletes need at least 3,000 mg of sodium a day, and some need more, depending on sweat and sodium loss rates.
  6. To strengthen your immune system, bump up your vitamin C intake to 500-1,000 mg 3-7 days before and 2-3 days after the competition. It is also recommended to add probiotics and vitamin D3 if not already taking them during this time.
  7. Get enough rest, and prepare yourself for the big event.

* * *

Here is a sample menu to help you achieve the right balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables:

6-9 a.m.: Rise and Shine. Start your day with a power-packed breakfast consisting of Kodiak pancakes, which are higher in lean protein and contain complex carbohydrates. Pair these pancakes with Fairlife milk, a great source of calcium and additional protein. For healthy fats, indulge in some 88 Acres sunbutter. Complement your breakfast with a plate of blueberries rich in antioxidants.

10 a.m.-12 noon: Lunch. Keep your energy levels high with True Primal soups, which provide a good balance of lean protein and essential nutrients. Introduce some healthy fats into your diet with at least 1-2 T of olive oil. Accompany your soup with some crackers for complex/starchy veg carbs. Finish off the meal with a side of oranges for a dose of vitamin C.

2-4 p.m.: Pre-workout Boost. Before heading out for your workout, energize yourself with Okios Pro or Kite Hill high-protein vegan yogurt, a lean protein/dairy source. Add peanut butter or seeds to make for a great addition for healthy fats. Dave’s Killer Bagels provide complex carbs to fuel your workout, and a banana or veggie tray offers a refreshing fruit/veg component to your pre-workout meal.

4-6 p.m.: Post-workout Recovery (within 30-45 minutes). After a strenuous workout, replenish your body with a bowl of dried edamame. This vegan-friendly food is a great source of lean protein. To add a crunch, sprinkle some pumpkin seeds to get a dose of healthy fats. Dried cranberries, blueberries and regular Cheerios serve as your complex/simple carbs/fruit/starchy component. You can also add veggies of your choice to this snack.

5-7 p.m.: Evening Meal. For an evening meal, enjoy a delicious and healthy bowl of chicken & rice mixed with veggies, sesame oil and seeds. This dish is a great source of lean protein, healthy fats, complex/starch veg carbs and veggies such as carrots, green beans and snap peas.

 7-10 p.m.: Evening Snack. End your day on a nutritious note with Daisy Cottage cheese, Fairlife milk or Organic soy milk again for lean protein/dairy. Walnuts add a crunch and provide healthy fats. Cheerios, a complex/starchy veg carb, can be a comforting end to your day.

Looking more for a warm, healthy dessert? Enjoy a Berry-anana Crunch Delight Cheerios Compote, which contains frozen or fresh fruits of choice or banana, blueberries and unsweetened cranberries. This not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but also provides you with essential nutrients and antioxidants. It takes no longer than two minutes to put together! See


Proper daily nutrition is a crucial factor in achieving success in competitions. Young athletes between ages 6-18 require plenty of fuel (calories) for growth and to support their energy demands during competition. It’s important to consume enough high-quality fuel at the right times to support their body during growth and maximize competition.

Dawn Weatherwax (RD, LD, ATC, CSCS) is a registered/licensed dietitian with a specialty in sports nutrition and founder of Sports Nutrition 2Go and Dawn Weatherwax Sports Nutrition Academy. She has been working with swimmers for over 25 years and has launched a sports nutrition academy for athletes. In addition, she is an athletic trainer with a certification in strength and conditioning from The National Strength and Conditioning Association.


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