Swim Meet Snacks: 7 Tips for Staying Fueled to Compete
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 through the last event. 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 day.
Tip 2: Focus on Carbohydrates for Energy
When you are competing, carbohydrates give you the energy to perform at your best. When planning snacks, make sure to focus on carbohydrate-rich foods. You can get carbohydrates from grain, fruits, starchy vegetables, and dairy.
Tip 3: Pack your 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.
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, breakfast bars, mini bagels, dry breakfast cereal
- Sandwiches: Turkey & cheese wrap, ham & cheese sandwich, peanut butter & jelly
- Salty Snacks: Pretzels, pita chips, Chex™ Mix, snack crackers
- Jerky, nut butter, nuts, deli meat, string cheese
- 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: Recover Between Events
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 stores between events is important. Grabbing a quick carbohydrate-rich snack between events, such as a granola bar, fruit, 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 Hydration
Even minimal dehydration during the day can impact strength, power, and speed. Therefore, maintaining hydration is critical for optimal sports performance.
During activity, your body sweats in order to remove heat from your body. When you sweat, you lose both fluid and electrolytes. The main electrolyte lost in sweat is sodium. Therefore, when focusing on staying hydrated throughout the day, it is important to consume both fluid and sodium.
Hydration for Swimmers
As a swimmer, focusing on hydration throughout the day is important. Even though you are in the water, your body still sweats and you need to replace fluid and electrolyte losses. 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.
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
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.
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. 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
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 Registered Dietitian. For additional sports nutrition tips, check-out my recent blog Your Guide to Game Day Nutrition.
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