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What We Can All Learn From the Swimmer’s Diet

11/02/2015, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

Eating like a swimmer is the key to the ultimate health plan. Why? Because no sport on Earth requires as much complete-body integration as swimming. 

Case in point: hockey players have tiny calf muscles. Getaway sticks, that’s what we like to call them. Because our lower legs are locked in an armoured boot while we compete, most hockey players have grossly and comically under-developed calf muscles. 

Soccer players? Well, they have strong legs and good endurance systems, but when it comes to upper body strength, there’s just no point in dragging around extra bulk. 

Baseball and football? I’m not going to go there, but let’s just say the athletic requirements for some players is a little lacking when it comes to healthy eating choices. 

Your Choice of Fuel Defines You

Swimmers feel every calorie that’s not pulling its weight when they’re pulling themselves through the water. The environment requires maximization of every muscle group. Consuming fuel with useless byproducts simply isn’t an option. 

Want to glide through the water like a shark? Eat lean meats and plenty of vegetables and natural glycogens and complex carbohydrates contained in fruits and whole-grains.

A balanced diet is a healthy diet, says the experts over at MySwimFit. the problem is the definition of balance is subjective. 

Fruits & Vegetables Fix Everything

These magical wonders are consumed by swimmers because they release a steady stream of energy into the body over time. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals that help the body perform down to the cellular level. For those of you who prefer my never-ending onslaught of analogies, if your body were a car, fruits and vegetables contain everything you need, from gasoline to oil to antifreeze to windshield wiper fluid. 

If your body needs it, fruits and vegetables gots it. 

“Try to pick as wide a range of colours as possible for your fruit and vegetables. This will ensure they contain a wider range of nutrients and antioxidants.”


Protein Will Build & Repair

Swimming, like every sport, is fraught with injury. The problem with swimming is that most injuries are self-inflicted. Poor warmups and over-extended limbs can lead to painful tears and strains that take a long time to heal. 

Unless you’re consuming the right proteins. 

Protein is like a needle and thread that stitches your muscles together after a workout so the muscles can become comfortable with their own growth. Extending your arms over your head is a similar movement to throwing a baseball; both motions are tough on the muscles, but protein can help repair the micro-damage after the exercise. 

Lean meats that are low in saturated fats include chicken, turkey and fish. Meals focused on lean protein will:

  • boost the immune system
  • rebuild muscles after exercise
  • provide strength for the muscles before exercise

Protein can also be found in nuts, eggs and dairy products. 

Embrace Cheat Day

I try as hard as I can, but I can’t stop cheating. There’s nothing better than sitting down on a Sunday afternoon to watch a hockey game (after coaching several hockey games) with a gigantic bag of chips. And yes, I lie and tell myself the organic chips are ok, so it’s best to eat the entire bag.

Swimmers understand cheating. On their diet, of course. Swimmers who finish a big race know their brain expects a reward, so they cheat and eat snacks and come back to their routine fresh and ready to go. There’s probably a little guilt mixed in there as well. 

But with a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables and protein, sitting back with a cinnamon bun or three won’t feel so bad. 

As long as you get back to your healthy choices tomorrow. 

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