Swimmers: Here’s Your Guide to Pre & Post Training Meals

Swimmers usually train 3-7 Km per session and may have at least two sessions per day with the inclusion of other forms of training such as land and resistance. Most are also tied up with school, college and a number of classes making it difficult to eat at regular intervals.

Many a times, swimmers would have eaten a good meal 4-5-hour pre-training and then usually nothing often experiencing fatigue, cramps and altered performance. Post session however, swimmers have to rush for either schools, colleges, classes or just hit the bed if it is an evening session. This compromises quality and quantity of food consumed.

It has been known that ‘nutrient timing’ is of absolute importance for

Pre-training: As increased storage of muscle glycogen increases energy availability reducing levels of fatigue. It also minimizes exercise associated muscle damage.

Post-training: Right nutrients post training are important for muscle mass synthesis and enhanced recovery. This is further essential to be ready for the next session.

Pre-training meal

  • Should be divided in two:
    • 1) 2-3 h pre-training and 2) 45 min-1 hour pre-training
  • The closer the snack to training, smaller & lower in fat & fiber should it be
  • However, a snack too small can cause hunger during the session and a snack too heavy can cause gut discomfort
  • General Macronutrient requirement (2-3h pre-training): 200-400g Low glycemic index Carbohydrates, 20-30g slow absorbing protein, 10-15g healthy fat with adequate salads and vegetables for micronutrient requirements
  • General Macronutrient requirement (1h pre-training): ~30-50g low-moderate glycemic index carbohydrates, limited protein, fiber and fat
  • Examples of pre-training meals
    • 2-3h pre-training: whole grain or millet rotis with paneer/pulses/ meat items with vegetable/ salad
    • 45 min-1h pre-training: Fruits, dry fruits, fruit smoothies

Post-training meal

  • Should be divided in two:
    • Within 30 minutes post-training and 2) 1h post-training
  • Ingesting a combination of carbohydrate and protein within 30 minutes is essential for recovery. A high glycemic index carbohydrate along with fast absorbing protein is important for maximum muscle synthesis.
  • The amount although depends on exercise intensity and duration but generally the carbohydrate and protein ratio should be at 2-4:1
  • General macronutrient requirement (1 h post training): ~50-100g high glycemic index carbohydrates and 20-25g fast absorbing protein.
  • Examples of 30min-1.5h post-training meal
    • Fruits/ fruit juices with egg whites/ whey protein/ soy protein/ sprouts/ nuts
    • whole grain rotis/ pasta with paneer/pulses/ meat items with vegetable/ salad

Swimmers, make sure you abide to the pre & post training rules for enhanced energy availability, power output, recovery and better performances!

Author: Mihira A R Khopkar

B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition


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SwimIndia does not guarantee results of any sort, before making any changes to your diet plans, please consult an expert.

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