The summer break often serves as a respite for many athletes. Yet, as the holiday season winds down, many swimmers returning to training find themselves eager to dive back into their routines. For youth athletes, the anticipation is palpable. Their coaches and parents share in the excitement, understanding the importance of getting back into the water after an extended hiatus. However, amidst this eagerness, there's an underlying question: how can nutrition ensure a safe and effective return to training?
Swim training nutrition plays a pivotal role in determining training intensity for returning swimmers. While many have done their utmost to maintain fitness levels over the summer, the nuances of a training-specific diet can significantly influence an athlete's comeback journey. This blog aims to highlight the key nutritional strategies and insights to ensure that swimmers not only return but also thrive, as they get back into their aquatic routines.
How does nutrition pave the way for swimmers returning to the pool post-summer break? As we dive into this guide, we'll swim through the essential energy requirements of youth swimmers. How critical is fuelling for a young swimmer's performance, and what consequences might under-fuelling bring to their swim routines?
When we talk about carbohydrates and swimming, how pivotal are they for maintaining a swimmer's stamina? Why is it essential to incorporate ample carbohydrates into a youth swimmer's diet, and how can they ensure consistent energy levels during their swim training?
Shifting our focus to protein, how does it bolster a swimmer's performance in the water? Why is protein a must-have in a youth swimmer's diet, and how does protein assist swimmers in muscle recovery and growth?
Now, onto fats, particularly Omega-3. Why shouldn't swimmers shy away from fats in their diet? How can fats, especially Omega-3, enhance a swimmer's performance and overall well-being? Why is it said that fats can be allies for those splashing their way to swimming success?
Lastly, let's dive deep into the world of sleep. Why is adequate sleep a non-negotiable for swimmers aiming for peak performance? How does sleep interlink with a swimmer's endurance and focus, and why is it said that swimmers need quality sleep to ensure they are making waves in their competitions?
Focusing on and getting your nutrition right before and after a training session and ensuring your body is getting enough fuel is key. With training hours having been dramatically cut over the summer holidays, swimmers energy expenditures will have been much lower too. As these are ramped back up with regular training, the amount an athlete eats will need to be increased to match too.
Under fuelling can be hugely detrimental to many different aspects of an athlete’s performance, but more importantly their health too. To reduce the risk of injury and illness as training levels return to normal, athletes should be eating at least 3 meals and 2 snacks each day, and these should be timed around training sessions too.
Carbohydrates are absolutely king when it comes to a teen athletes’ diet. They’re the main source of energy that the body uses during exercise, especially high intensity sessions . A return to normal training will probably also see a huge increase in the intensity and duration of sessions compared to the Zoom workout of lockdown. This means that carbohydrate intakes will need to be increased to make sure the body has enough fuel. Watch Nutritionist Ellen explain why Carbs really are king in the video below...
The more you train, the more your muscles are worked and the more they are worked, the more they need to adapt and repair. Having plenty of protein in the diet is vital to ensuring that muscles can continue to grow and repair and to reduce muscle soreness after training too. Include a source of protein in each meal (especially breakfast) and eat two high protein snacks on training days too. After a training session is an especially important time to get one of these protein feeds in. Let Nutritionist Ellen walk you through some snack ideas for youth athletes in the video below...
As training levels increase and athletes return to exercising in different ways to what they have over the summer months, muscle soreness and DOM’s are going to be inevitable. Plenty of foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids should be included in the diet as training gets back under way to help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness . Oily fish are the best source of omega-3s to help reduce muscle soreness, but some is also found in walnuts, chia and flax seeds or in a fish oil supplement for vegetarian or vegan athletes.
Sleep is one of the most overlooked and easiest to access of all of the recovery tools. It plays a key role in both physical and mental recovery from exercise , so is going to absolutely crucial in the return to training. 9 hours per night is the suggested amount that youth athletes need to achieve . Anything less than this and they may see detriments to all aspects of their performance.
So, not only is nutrition key to good performance, but more importantly it’s essential to youth athlete’s health and injury risk too. Before youth athletes get back to training, coaches and parents need to ensure that their athletes know how to fuel well to reduce the risk of injury and to make sure they can perform at their best too.
If you're finding it challenging to ensure your young athlete is getting a balanced diet consistently from whole foods, then YSN NUTRI-TEEN shakes could be the solution you're looking for. Specifically designed to cater to the nutritional needs of youth athletes, this food powder can help fill in any dietary gaps, providing the high-quality protein that's crucial for muscle recovery and growth.
Available in several kid-approved flavours, these shakes offer a quick, easy, and tasty solution, with a 5* Trustpilot rating. What sets NUTRI-TEEN shakes apart is their focus on supporting young athletes during their vital growth and development phases, as well as facilitating recovery.
Please remember, these shakes are not meant to replace a balanced diet of whole foods. Instead, they're designed to complement it, particularly when your child's dietary needs are heightened due to intense training sessions. If ensuring adequate protein through food alone is proving difficult, consider adding YSN NUTRI-TEEN shakes to your young athlete's nutritional plan for that added support.
We know that nutrition can be a minefield, especially for young athletes after so long away from training. If you want some nutrition advice tailored specifically to you and your youth athlete, why not book in a call with our nutrition team for some expert advice?
- Burke, L., Hawley, J., Wong, S. and Jeukendrup, A., 2011. Carbohydrates for training and competition. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(sup1), pp.S17-S27.
- Jouris, K. B., McDaniel, J. L., & Weiss, E. P. (2011). The effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the inflammatory response to eccentric strength exercise. Journal of sports science & medicine, 10(3), 432.
- Fullagar, H. H., Duffield, R., Skorski, S., Coutts, A. J., Julian, R., & Meyer, T. (2015). Sleep and Recovery in Team Sport: Current Sleep-Related Issues Facing Professional Team-Sport Athletes, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 10(8), 950-957.
- Halson, S., 2017. Sleep and Athletes. [online] Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Available at: <https://www.gssiweb.org/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-167-sleep-and-athletes> [Accessed 23 March 2021].\
Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information about nutrition for youth athletes and is not meant to replace professional dietary advice or individual nutritional counselling. Every child's nutritional needs can vary due to factors such as age, size, physical activity level, and medical conditions. We strongly recommend consulting with a registered dietitian or a healthcare provider before making changes to your child's diet, such as adding food powders. YSN and the author of this article do not take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, dietary modification, action, or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this article.