Swim moms and dads are heavily invested in their children’s success and always eager to help their kids perform better at swim competitions. Ensuring that your young swimmer is properly fed and fueled to maximize energy and endurance is one easy way to contribute. But exactly what should kids eat before a swim meet?
Here are some tips to boost your competitive swimmer’s performance with smart eating habits.
Feeding Kids Before a Swim Competition
- Competitive swimmers should eat a healthy meal 3 to 4 hours ahead of a meet, followed by a healthy snack 1 to 2 hours before swimming
- Feed your child whole foods, not processed foods
- Meals should be high in protein so they’re satisfying, sustaining, and stabilizing on blood sugar levels; fish with healthy fats like salmon, tuna, trout, or mackerel is an excellent option, while eggs, poultry, or lean red meat work well too
- Include other sources of unsaturated fats in the meal and snack, such as nuts, seeds, avocado, or a plant-based oil
- Every meal and snack should include a serving or two of fruit and/or vegetables
- Avoid refined grains and added sugar, which lead to a spike and crash in blood sugar levels that is sure to diminish performance
- A small amount of whole grain (e.g., whole wheat, oats, brown rice, barley, etc.) is a good source of carbohydrates that won’t lead to a crash in blood glucose levels
- Remember, avoiding added sugar means skipping those sugary sports drinks
- Avoid fried, greasy, salty, spicy, and heavy foods the day before and the day of a swim meet
- For an excellent pre-swim snack, give your kid a few handfuls of trail mix containing nuts, seeds, and some dried fruit; a few bits of dark chocolate (60% cocoa content or higher) is a beneficial addition, too
- Chips are a convenient go-to item for parents, but swap out those standard greasy, high-sodium chips with dried fruit or veggie chips
- Hummus and veggie sticks, veggies or whole grain crackers with some peanut butter or nut butter, or a protein bar with little or no added sugar are three other smart snack options