The training process in people who regularly practice swimming should be supported by a proper diet and correct supplementation. What does it look like in practice?
Swimming training sessions combine cardio, strength and endurance elements. For this reason, the athlete’s body needs a lot of nutrients, minerals and vitamins that help oxygenate the muscles, prepare them for intense exercise and speed up the recovery process. Swimmers also have a very high calorie burn rate, so their diet should be rich in carbohydrates. A swimmer’s daily menu should also include large amounts of protein, which is the basic building block for muscle tissue.
It is estimated that the diet of people who regularly practice swimming should include food with a caloric value of about 4 thousand, of which carbohydrates should make up about 60% of the total demand. Experts also advise that a well-prepared diet for a swimmer should include 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of the athlete’s weight. Animal protein derived from meat, fish, eggs and dairy products is very valuable, but may not fill the correct limit, so it is worth making up the deficit with nutrients based on synthetic protein. Being in the water also requires the swimmer to take easily digestible meals that will not cause stomach problems, will not lead to bloating or abdominal pain, and will be digested before the next training session at the pool.
Another key component of the lifestyle and nutrition of regular swimmers is good hydration. High-performance athletes need to regularly replenish the level of water in the body, as they lose much more water along with sweat than the average person. In the process of sweating, the body also loses many nutrients, so it is important to maintain their correct level (e.g. by taking isotonic drinks or electrolytes).
Unfortunately, there may not be many opportunities to replenish fluids during training, so a good way to keep the body hydrated is to simply monitor weight loss. In this case, the athlete should weigh themselves immediately before the start of the training session and immediately after the end of the session. The lost difference should be made up by drinking more than a liter of water for every kilogram of weight lost.
The long list of remedies that help keep the body in good shape and replenish the nutrients lost during training is different for each athlete. The supplementation regimen should be chosen individually for the swimmer, after a thorough analysis of their diet and current health status. This is because choosing dietary supplements on your own may end up with a lack of any effects or negative symptoms that worsen performance and make regular training impossible.
Among the most commonly recommended dietary supplements effective for swimmers are stimulating caffeine, creatine accelerating the building of muscle tissue, beta-alanine delaying muscle soreness during intensive exercise, or bicarbonate reducing the feeling of fatigue. Another popular dietary supplement among swimmers are stimulants, i.e. preparations stimulating the athlete’s body just before the start. However, such supplements often contain prohibited doping substances, so their use is risky and may be harmful to health. According to published statistics since the Olympic Games held in Beijing in 2008, as many as 31% of cases of detected doping agents in athletes came from this type of preparations, which, after all, in theory are not doping and can be used by athletes.
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