On a swimming day (as with any other day), the key to getting energy levels right for you or your child, and keeping them stable throughout the day, is to start the day with a balanced breakfast. This means that it contains some complex carbohydrates, some protein and fat.
Examples of a balanced breakfast are:
- porridge made with milk or milk alternative (almond, coconut, hazelnut) with 2 tablespoons of ground seeds like flax, sunflower, pumpkin, plus a small handful of berries such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries. Top tip Use frozen berries
- two poached eggs on a slice of whole-grain or rye bread with half a small avocado
- scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on a slice of rye bread
- a bowl of sugar-free muesli with yogurt and a small handful of berries
On the days that there is not enough time for breakfast, a nutrient-packed smoothie fits the bill. Mix ½ cup of oats with a scoop of a very good quality protein powder like Sunwarrior or Pulsin. Blend this up with some frozen berries, 2 tablespoons of mixed seeds (flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds) and a choice of milk or milk alternative.
Top tip Stay away from processed cereals. These are high in refined carbohydrates and will spike your blood sugar level which will dip by about 10.30am making you feel hungry and tired.
Try not to eat large amounts of food in the 2 hours before swimming as this may cause indigestion, causing discomfort in the pool. If your child needs a little energy – for example, if their swimming lesson is after school – then a small banana 20 – 30 minutes before the lesson will do the trick.
We’ve all felt it, that feeling when you have had a long training session in the pool and within 30 minutes, you are ravenous and pretty tired! In children this may mean a mini sulk or even a temper tantrum. At this point it is important not to pig out on sugary snacks or highly refined carbohydrates like white bread. Even if this is what your child is craving, it will only create a blood sugar spike leading to more excitable behaviour, followed by an even bigger energy slump 1-2 hours later. Instead, think ahead. If you are not going to be eating a meal in the hour after swimming, plan a snack. The snack needs to deliver both protein to help build the muscles after all that exercise, and good carbohydrates to provide your child with slow-release energy for the remainder of the day as well as replenish glycogen stores in their muscles and liver.
Examples of good snacks are:
- a simple banana milkshake, perhaps with some nuts or seeds blended in for some good fats and extra carbohydrate
- a piece of whole-grain or rye toast with nut butter such as peanut, almond, cashew hazelnut.
- a piece of fruit with a small handful of nuts (and even a few squares or good quality dark chocolate)
If you are on the go ‘Eat Well’ do a great range of fruit and nut bars. The protein packed bar is particularly good as it delivers a hit of chocolate!
Finally, there is sometimes the belief that because you are exercising in the pool you are not sweating. This is not true. Swimming like all exercise causes you to sweat; dehydration can contribute to tiredness after swimming and the following day may be more of a struggle. Staying hydrated both before and after a swimming session is as important as making sure you eat the right foods.
For more information about balanced nutrition and optimising your gut health, please visit www.gutwise.co.uk.