Swim Meet Snacks: 7 Tips for Staying Fueled to Compete
*This article includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you are a competitive swimmer, you know how intense a full-day swim meet can be. It is important to have a sports nutrition plan in place to keep you fueled to perform at your best throughout the meet. Here are 7 tips for packing swim meet snacks to keep you going strong all day long.
Tip 1: Plan Your Swim Meet Snacks Ahead of Time
As you prepare for your swim meet, it is important to take time to plan what snacks you will take with you. Don’t count on being able to purchase the foods and beverages you need to support your sports nutrition needs from the concession stand alone.
If your team packs snacks for the group, share ideas for snack items to include on the list. If you are unsure if your favorite snacks will be purchased, it is always a good idea to pack your own snacks for the swim meet.
Tip 2: Focus on Carbohydrates for Energy During the Swim Meet
When you are competing, carbohydrates give your body the energy needed to perform at your best. When planning swim meet snacks, make sure to focus on including high-carbohydrate food items.
Swimmers can get carbohydrates in the diet from a variety of sources, including:
- Grains: Bread, bagels, wraps, pasta, rice, quinoa, oatmeal, breakfast cereal
- Fruit: Fresh, frozen, dried, canned in natural juices, applesauce
- Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, corn
- Beans, peas, and legumes
- Milk and yogurt
Tip 3: Pack your Swim Meet Snacks
In addition to carbohydrates, you want to plan for snacks that can serve as mini-meals during the day. When you have longer periods of time between events, include a source of lean protein with your snack.
Healthy Snacks for Swimmers Between Events
Some easy snacks to throw into your swim bag or cooler include:
- Fruit: Bananas, oranges, apple slices, grapes, applesauce squeeze pouches, dried fruit
- Granola bars, fig bars, breakfast bars
- Mini bagels, dry breakfast cereal, animal crackers, graham crackers
- Sandwiches: Turkey & cheese wrap, ham & cheese sandwich, peanut butter & jelly
- Salty Snacks: Pretzels, pita chips, snack crackers
- Jerky, nut butter, nuts, deli meat, string cheese, trail mix
- Chocolate milk, individual yogurt cups
Make sure you pack napkins and any utensils you might need to eat your snack with, such as a spoon for your yogurt.
Tip 4: Plan for Recovery Snacks for Swimmers
If you have limited time between events, make recovery nutrition a priority. Focus on refueling with carbohydrates and replacing fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat.
As you exercise, you use up your carbohydrate stores, thus refilling your energy stores between events is important. Grabbing a quick carbohydrate-rich snack between events, such as a granola bar, banana, applesauce, or bagel, can help ensure you start your next event with a full tank of energy.
Consuming a sports drink between events can help you replace both fluid and electrolytes. Sports drinks also contain carbohydrates, which can help provide additional energy to support your activity.
Tip 5: Don’t Forget About Hydration During the Swim Meet
Even minimal dehydration can impact a swimmer’s strength, power, and speed. Therefore, maintaining hydration is critical for optimal sports performance.
Hydration for Swimmers
During activity, your body sweats in order to remove heat from your body. When you sweat, you lose both fluid and electrolytes (mainly sodium). Thus, replacing both fluid and electrolyte losses throughout the swim meet is important.
Even though you are in the water, your body still sweats. Therefore, the goal during activity is to minimize the amount of dehydration that occurs due to sweat losses (1).
Since you are less likely to notice sweat losses in the pool, having an individualized hydration plan in place can be to your performance advantage.
Rehydrating During Swim Meets
Make sure to pack extra water and sports drinks in your cooler for a full-day swim meet. If space is limited in your cooler, consider purchasing individual packets of sports drink mix that can be added to your bottle of water. Keeping several packets of your favorite sports drink mix in your swim bag can definitely come in handy.
In addition to fluid, eating salty snacks between events, such as pretzels and pita chips, can also help with replacing the sodium lost in sweat.
Tip 6: Food Safety for Swim Meet Snacks
Don’t neglect the importance of food safety when planning your swim meet snacks. Here are two easy ways you can stay on top of food safety at your next swim meet.
Wash Your Hands Before Eating
The first step to food safety is washing your hands. When you do not have access to soap and water, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Choose a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. To apply the hand sanitizer, rub the gel all over your hands and fingers. Continue rubbing your hands together until they are dry.
Throw a hand sanitizer gel into your swim bag to ensure you have it available when needed.
Swim Meet Snacks – Maintain Temperature Control
Another key aspect of food safety is temperature control. It is important for food be stored at the appropriate temperatures to prevent bacterial growth. To ensure food safety, cold food should be held below 40°F.
At your swim meet, it is essential to make sure all perishable foods are held cold. Pack items such as deli meat, cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk, and cut fruit, in an ice chest.
When you grab your snack from the cooler, remove only the quantity of food you plan to eat at that time. Packing your snacks in individual size serving bags can help with this.
If swimmers are looking for a great way to keep their snacks and drinks cold at a swim meet, the YETI Hopper Flip Cooler (*check pricing on Amazon) is a great option. This durable cooler has a waterproof shell and is the perfect size for a swimmer to pack all of their swim meet snacks into in order to stay fueled throughout the day.
Temperature Control Guidelines for Swim Meet Snacks
Any food items that are held without temperature control for two hours or more should be thrown away. This time frame decreases to 1 hour If the temperature exceeds 90 °F, which can easily occur at an outdoor, summer swim meet.
If food is left out over these time limits, throw it away – it is not worth the risk of getting a foodborne illness.
Tip 7: Practice Your Fueling Strategy Before the Swim Meet
During practice, try out different types of snacks so you can determine which snacks work best for you. Just as you practice your swim strokes and starts off the block, you want to practice your sports nutrition fueling plan. Knowing you have a sports nutrition plan in place for your swim meet will give you confidence that you are fueled to perform at your best.
You are now ready to plan and pack your snacks for your next swim meet. If you desire an individualized sports nutrition plan, consider meeting with a sports dietitian nutritionist.
For additional sports nutrition tips, check-out my recent blog Your Guide to Game Day Nutrition.
Join the Nutrition By Mandy Email List & Get a Free Athlete’s Grocery List
Click HERE to join the Nutrition By Mandy e-mail list. When you join you will receive a free athlete’s grocery list to print and take with you to the store.