A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Michael Conaton:
There is much written today about sports nutrition and optimizing performance. To be honest I can’t keep it all straight. I always wished someone would have given us a menu of good foods to serve a swimmer during the season and at meets. It’s hard enough planning (and cooking!) a weekly menu for the whole family, but to also make sure it’s healthy and adequate for your swimmer makes it even harder.
This week’s article attached is from Dr. Rob Silverman entitled “Performance is about fuel, longevity is about recovery”. Dr. Silverman is an accomplished nutritionist and chiropractor practicing in Westchester. The article does a great job outlining the proper food groups and nutritionals for different occasions like practices and meets, but also for intervals during the day. It has some great suggestions for actual foods at certain meals. You’ll also see some mention of injury treatment as this was an outline for a presentation Dr. Silverman delivered in a more comprehensive lecture.
The USA Swimming website also dedicates an entire section to nutrition. It includes many great suggestions for healthy meals and snacks and explains the attributes of the nutritionals. Please see the USA website link for the section:
And this brand new article with more great meal suggestions:
For what it’s worth, I have included below some meals that have worked for us. Fortunately the ingredients for the most part are consistent with Dr. Silverman’s suggestions! But personally I think you can also drive yourself crazy trying too hard to do it too perfectly. At the end of the day, sometimes we were just trying to get calories into the kids who were training so hard and trying to hold weight. Often they would be too tired or their stomachs would be too upset following a hard workout to eat a proper, large meal. This is not unusual and another reason why, as Dr. Silverman’s article suggests, multiple meals throughout the day are a good idea.
Also like Dr. Silverman, we were fanatical about hydration. (We tried to be good at the simple stuff). These kids cannot drink enough water in my opinion. It’s the easiest way to influence performance at practice and at meets! The kids don’t realize how much they perspire in the water and inside the humid natatoriums. They have to stay hydrated. Hydration does everything from promote recovery by encouraging the flushing of lactic acid build up, to keeping tendons more supple and flexible. Multi vitamins to promote general health were easy too…keeping a bottle on the dinner table made it convenient and an easy reminder.
Remember self-selection…it was middle of high school or so when the boys asked about protein supplements. We never brought it up. It started with a bottle of Boost after each workout (I believe the practice passed down from one of Badger’s National Team members back in the day). Consuming decent doses of protein after a workout was discovered by the experts to aid and enhance recovery and became all the craze ~5? years ago. Today USA Swimming and college programs actually offer chocolate milk for example to its swimmers after practice or on trips and training camps as a recovery aid after workouts.
Protein and electrolyte regimens are becoming more and more common. I am probably very naïve when it comes to most of this stuff. We always took a very conservative and cautious approach to these supplements and only considered them when the boys were older (~16) for what that’s worth. Rightly or wrongly, we believed their natural physical maturity had to happen first or at the same rate. What do I know but it just seems that too much muscle mass on an immature bone structure for example, can’t be a good thing. Also be careful about what kids can find on their own on the internet with your credit card!
We are familiar with Metagenix, Isagenix, P2Life and Muscle Milk products. Creatine is a synthetic protein that supposedly builds muscle mass. I would encourage you to discuss this product and others with your doctors. Creatine is very hard on your kidneys I have read (yet another reason for hydration). I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and can’t endorse the use of any of these products. I only offer our anecdotal experience for your information. (Unfortunately I also found out that USA Swimming can’t endorse any of these products either due to the unlikely chance that a certain batch is contaminated).
Having said all this, these are kids too. They (and we parents) also may like to eat some stuff that may not be the best for us. During meets we tried to be more vigilant for sure, with low fat, no fried, easy digestion top of mind. But you know, sometimes a delicious In-N-Out Burger just hits the spot! Especially in celebration of a great night of swimming at a meet. The point is there is a mental aspect to some of this too. If it makes them happy to have a hamburger one night during a meet and they’re going to eat a good high caloric meal…maybe it’s ok…especially if you know you have a long night of digestion ahead (and nothing else is open or convenient and you have to get them to bed – like I said, you can’t go too crazy). As they get older your kids will also be more and more mindful of what they know they should and shouldn’t be eating, which takes the pressure off of parents eventually.
One final observation…Breakfast became a new found asset for us. It’s an easy way to get ahead in the day and get some good calories and lots of protein in the diet. We evolved into bigger and bigger meals as they got older, eventually even before school with bacon and cartons of eggs. Saturday morning breakfast after practice was a big deal as well.
So following are some suggested meals for what it’s worth…bon appetite!
Water, Water, Water; Chocolate milk; Boost; Vitamins;
Spinach, rigatoni, chicken; Pesto tortellini w pepperoni; Salmon, asparagus and biscuits; Chicken parm and pasta; Any protein and veggie stir fry; Tacos/burritos; lettuce tacos; Shake n Bake chicken, fish; Stuffed peppers; Steak, rice
Breakfast burritos; Turkey Bacon and eggs; leftover rice, eggs & bacon skillet mix; Waffles; French toast; Tater tots, bacon & eggs skillet mix.
Low sugar cereal; oatmeal; yogurt; bananas; English muffin peanut butter banana; soft pretzels; bagels.
Restaurants at meets:
Subway; Soup and salad bars; Non spicy tex mex (rice, beans chicken); IHOP; pasta.
Water; Gatorade; Bananas; mini-Bagels; Cereal and milk (if refrigerator); Trail mix; Power bars; Cliff bars; Nutrigrain bars; ….Oreos.
Keep those topic ideas rolling in… firstname.lastname@example.org