Is there one standard diet for all swimmers?
When I get asked this question, I usually have a counter question, are all swimmers the same? We often forget that really the only common aspect for all those who swim, is swimming alone! And as most of you would consider that as one of the most important factors, it is more often than not. This is because, there are plenty of other aspects that are more significant to gauge performance outputs and these are:
Anthropometric measurements, Body composition analysis and growth phase: Many begin swimming at an early age 5-8 years typically. They have their first peak in performance on an average in +3-4 years. Their age, heights, weights and the way they are growing (deposition of bone mass, muscle mass, fat mass) all of these, influence the way they swim. So, understanding growth while swimming competitively is essential.
Clinical Signs and Symptoms of Deficiencies/ Abnormal Biochemical Profiles: Many swimmers are often nearly deficient or have a full-blown deficiency to one of the micronutrients. This can further impact their swim performance in ways like fatigue, cramps, muscle pain and soreness etc.
Dietary Habits: Whether vegetarian/ vegan/ non-vegetarian, dietary habits influence the sources of nutrients. Some land up being good quality sources, some not as much. Many also have issues with digestion, appetite and hunger, some are picky eaters, all of these influence the quality of nutrients.
And after really understanding all of these details, we come to swimming as a sport which further has variety of angles:
Training: Very important to understand the training intensities, training types (anaerobic, aerobic, threshold, vo2 etc.), the duration and no. of kms covered etc.
Coping with Training: Whether the swimmer can cope up with the training. Is it hard to train, if yes, why? The pull has no strength/power or one cannot sustain endurance.
Race Day Performance: Training well, yet not able to perform well on race days? Trying to figure out the reasons which are most often related to anxiety/nervousness can help understand energy metabolism on race days!
My advice is, yes, read more learn more through the plenty articles of swimming nutrition including my own. But whether that is the only diet blue print? Well, no. In order to understand where you as a swimmer/ your kid needs improvement on, is based on customization, individualization and innumerable interactions.
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.