Most swimmers are anyways anxious before a meet and prefer to avoid eating just about anything in fear of throwing up or feeling nauseas before the race. However, they can usually fall prey to the wide variety of buffet options available for breakfast or lunch. And further would want to have their choice of comfort or favorite foods which might include those that do not fall under pre-race food options.
Here are four categories of foods to definitely avoid before a race:
- Too Many Veggies: All of us know how healthy veggies are and this might come as a shock to many that ideally the proportion of veggies need to be kept bare minimum before the race. The reason we all know veggies are healthy is not just because of the plenty vitamins and minerals present but also because of the fiber content which aids in our digestive system. However too much fiber just before race coupled with the stress of the race in itself can upset the tummy and cause fluid loss, dehydration and ultimately make the swimmer weak.
- Dessert & Confectionary Items: Many believe having dry biscuits, or even chocolate cubes just before the race can help boost energy. Many even prefer grabbing cupcakes and brownies in between races in a belief that they are more satiating. However, none of these have the ingredients needed pre-race. We could even for a second ignore the fact that they contain refined flour but we just cannot let go of the issue that they are loaded with fat and fat takes time to digest. Having these items might in fact make the swimmer feel sluggish and lethargic.
- Fried Foods: A strict no-no; fried items including non-veg items/ paneer/mendu wadas/chivdas/chips/wafers etc. should absolutely be avoided during meets. As mentioned above they are items that absorb too much of oil. The fat is difficult to digest and sits in the tummy for a longer period of time setting lethargy in.
- Too much of Meat: So, all meat eaters would want to make available non-veg items for possibly all meals of the day to ensure enough protein support but the protein fibers in meat are also difficult to digest and stay in the stomach for longer hours giving a feeling of being overly full. And as much protein is necessary, it could be well present in the dinner meal for better recovery, since the major focus for meals throughout the day is on carbohydrates for energy availability throughout races.
Author: Mihira A R Khopkar
B.Sc. Dietetics, M.Sc. Sports Nutrition
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