Nutrition

ATHLETE NUTRITION

The professional nutrition specialists at the U.S. Olympic Committee have put together a variety of informational materials for athletes, coaches and parents. In this section you can find access to these materials to learn more about sport-specific diet, travel nutrition and eating guidelines.

General Nutrition Guidelines

 

Top Nutrient-Rich Food Choices 

12/9/2014

By Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, CSSDRecently a coach asked me what foods were the best sources of carbohydrate, protein and fat for swimmers. Nutritionists like to talk to athletes about nutrients, but swimmers eat foods, not nutrients. So, with that in mind, here are some nutrient-rich foods for each of the energy-producing nutrients of carbs, protein, and fat.

Carbohydrates: Carbs provide 4 calories per gram of carbohydrate and provide not only quick energy to fuel muscles, but they also supply a lot of the B-vitamins in our diet. Carbs also provide dietary fiber, if you choose the best carbs. Carb-rich foods that also supply vitamins and fiber include whole-grain starchy foods, like whole wheat bread (not wheat bread) and other whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat tortillas, rolls and buns and popcorn. Starchy veggies also are good sources of nutrient-rich carbs: corn, green peas, white and sweet potatoes, lentils, black or red beans, and chick peas. Fruits are mostly carbs and whole fruit is best, followed by frozen, dried, canned in juice and fruit juice. All whole fruits are nutrient-rich, so while some swimmers tell me they avoid the sugar in fruit, there is no need forego the naturally occurring sugars in fruit. But, remember that fruit roll-ups, fruit drinks, and fruit-flavored candies are not fruit…those foods do contain a lot of added sugars. Lastly, dairy foods, like milk and yogurt contain the naturally occurring carb, lactose, so don’t forget you are getting carbs when you drink milk for recovery or snack on yogurt.

Protein: Most athletes know that eggs, meat, fish, poultry and milk are good sources of protein, but don’t overlook nuts and seeds and beans and peas for protein. Vegetarians can get all the protein they need from vegetables sources, if they make the right choices. Eating protein throughout the day is the best strategy to build and maintain muscle.

 
Fat: Healthy fats for swimmers include the fats in nuts and seeds (including peanut and almond butters), avocado, canola, olive, sunflower or soybean oil (and salad dressings made from these oils). Mayonnaise is made from heart-healthy oils, so there is no need to avoid it. Fats do contain more than twice the calories as carbs and protein, so these are good to include for those trying to gain weight.

Putting it all together: Here is a sample meal plan for swimmers to include nutrient-rich foods for performance and good health.

 

Breakfast:

Whole grain toaster waffles topped with berries and real maple syrup
1 cup of low-fat milk
1 cup of 100% juice
1 hard cooked egg
Mid-morning or post training snack
Peanut butter and fruit jam sandwich on whole wheat bread
16 ounces of water or fruit juice or sports drink

Lunch
Cup of vegetable soup
Grilled chicken sandwich on whole grain bun with lettuce and tomato
Coleslaw
Fruit salad
Water

Mid-afternoon or pre-practice snack
Plain mini-bagel with almond butter
16 ounces of water
After practice snack
16 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk

Dinner
Protein-enriched pasta with marinara sauce
Ground turkey meatballs
Green salad with tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, and sunflower seeds and olive-oil based salad dressing
9-grain dinner rolls
Fruit cobbler or sorbet
Water

Evening snack
Whole grain cereal and low-fat milk with banana
Or
Hummus and whole grain crackers and baby carrots

 

Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN, CSSD, is a nutrition professor emerita at Georgia State University and provides nutrition counseling to athletes of all ages. She welcomes questions from athletes at chrisrosenbloom@gmail.com.

 

16 Breakfast Ideas for the Young Swimmer  

18/12/2014 By Jill Castle, MS, RDN

To eat, or not to eat, breakfast? This is the question young swimmers may struggle with as they scurry out the door to make morning practice or catch the bus and get to school on timeFor growing kids and teens, starting the day with breakfast has its benefits. Breakfast consumption has been linked to better nutrient intake, mental function and academic performance. Skipping breakfast has it drawbacks. A 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 1999-2006) survey of children aged 9-18 looked at self-reported breakfast eating patterns and the types of breakfast foods eaten. Researchers found that 20% of children and 35% of teens skipped breakfast, 36% children and 25% teens ate cereal, and the rest ate a variety of different breakfast foods. Interestingly, breakfast skippers had higher body mass indices (BMIs) and a higher prevalence of obesity, while cereal eaters had the most favorable nutrient intakes and weight scores.

We have less data for young athletes and their breakfast consumption patterns, particularly about what constitutes the perfect breakfast amount, and composition. However, it is known that carbohydrate-based foods are needed as fuel for athletic performance, and protein sources help build and repair muscle tissue. So it makes sense that young athletes may benefit from the healthy habit of a daily, balanced breakfast.To make getting breakfast on board for your young swimmer easier, check out these breakfast ideas categorized by preparation method:

 
Refrigerate overnight
 

1. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Swirl Overnight Oats

2. Greek Yogurt Parfait: Layer vanilla Greek yogurt, fruit, and granola in a glass or Mason jar.

 

Grab-n-Go
3. Nut butter sandwich on whole grain bread: Make this the night before. Add jelly if you like.

4. Trail mix: Use a commercial trail mix or make your own with nuts and dried fruit.

5. Nut butter and fresh fruit: Can you say banana or apple and peanut butter? Vary your nut butters with almond, cashew and try sunflower seed butter too. There are many small convenient packets of nut butter available.

6. Gorp: Mix dry cereal, nuts, raisins/other dried fruit, carob or chocolate chips together in a baggie.

7. String cheese and whole grain crackers

8. Hard-boiled eggs

 

Prep In 5 Minutes…
9. Smoothie: ½ cup 100% juice or nectar; ½ cup milk; 1 cup frozen fruit; ¼- ½ cup Greek yogurt

10. Bagel sandwich: Layer ham and cheese on a bagel. Zap in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm.

11. Egg and cheese on an English muffin: fry an egg; toast the muffin; assemble with a slice of cheese into a sandwich.

12. Breakfast burrito: Take a whole grain tortilla, fill it with scrambled egg or tofu, add cheese, avocado, leftover veggies and salsa, and roll it up.

13. Walking waffle: Toast two whole grain waffles, spread with nut butter or cream cheese, top with fresh fruit or jam, and assemble as a sandwich.

14. Instant oatmeal: Mix hot water and oats in a to-go coffee cup; top with walnuts and blueberries. Don't forget the spoon!

 

Freeze Ahead
15. Egg and veggie cups: Make these over the weekend and freeze them. Heat them in the microwave in the morning and grab a piece of fruit as a side.

16. Breakfast cookies: Try these Pumpkin breakfast cookies or these dried fruit and peanut butter cookies. Toss in a milk box or 100% juice alongside.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN is a childhood nutrition expert and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School (www.fearlessfeeding.com) and author of Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete. She is the creator of Just The Right Byte (www.justtherightbyte.com), and lives with her husband and four children in New Canaan, CT.

 

5 Bad Eating Habits Swimmers Must Break

11/11/2014

by Jill Castle, MS, RDN

A habit is a regular tendency that is hard to give up. When it comes to food and eating, there are good habits and there are bad ones. Good eating habits promote health, overall wellness, and may even optimize swimming performance. Bad habits, on the other hand, may get in the way of athletic performance and future potential. Here are some of the bad eating habits I see among young swimmers: 

Skipping Breakfast
It’s estimated that about 20% of kids  (9-13 years) and 36% of teens (14-18 years) skip breakfast. The reasons vary, but in the case of the swimmer, they include running short on time in the morning, not feeling hungry, or eating too much the night before, which can suppress hunger in the morning. Swimmers need breakfast, not only for revving up their engine (metabolism), but also for paying attention in school, meeting important nutrient requirements, and feeling energized throughout the day. Breakfast kicks everything in motion—the swimmers “engine,” and his brain—so skipping it is a habit that needs to be broken. Don’t be picky about a full course meal! Almost anything for breakfast is better than nothing. Try a smoothie, instant oatmeal, a handful of nuts and cereal, a bar, or even a box of flavored milk.

Light-loading Lunch
Some swimmers are “watching their weight,” and in doing so may think it’s healthy to opt for a salad or a cup of soup for lunch, or maybe a sandwich and nothing else. This uber-healthy approach, which sounds like a good (and healthy) idea, really doesn’t work, especially if after-school training is on the horizon. Lunch is the meal that loads the swimmer’s body with essential carbs and protein (as well as other nutrients) for training. So a salad or broth-based soup won’t cut it, but a sandwich or wrap on whole grain bread served with a cup of soup and fresh fruit would be ideal. 

Overeating Later (after school, practice, and late at night)
When the swimmer skips or light-loads on eating earlier in the day, he is bound to experience significant hunger, eventually. After school or practice, or even after a full dinner, hunger may rear its ugly head, and the swimmer may overeat, and perhaps even binge (eat a large amount of food in a short period of time). Overeating can cause unwanted weight gain, and if done at night, may interfere with the morning appetite, and disturb a healthy rhythm of eating during the day. Back-loading calories at the end of the day robs the swimmer’s body of needed nutrients for training and learning at school when he needs it most—during the day!

Eating the Wrong Food
Candy, sweet muffins, chocolate-coated granola bars, chips, and cookies are the wrong foods for swimmers to be snacking on, or eating routinely. Once in a while, on a non-training day, or in the context of other healthy foods is acceptable, but relying on unhealthy foods to sustain a training program or competition is silly. While these foods can fit in to the swimmer’s diet, their role should be minimal. For example, one or two regular portions of sweets can fit into the swimmer’s diet without crashing it, however, eating a chocolate chip muffin for breakfast, a big cookie and chips at lunch, popping Skittles throughout practice or competition, and finishing the day with ice cream or fried food is a bad idea, and a blossoming bad habit. Eating the right foods, and downsizing the wrong foods, is an area where many young swimmers can do better.

Forgetting Fluids
A headache, feeling tired, and a sense of hunger may be signs of poor drinking habits. True, dehydration is common among young athletes and stems from getting behind in fluid consumption. Prepping for practice takes place all day, from eating nutritious, juicy food to drinking enough water or other beverages. Some swimmers forget to drink, and play catch-up at practice, which is hard to do. Ideally, swimmers should drink fluids all day (preferably water, milk or small amounts of 100% juice), come to practice with water or a sports drink, drink throughout training, and replenish with more fluids during their recovery and the rest of the day.

Don’t let these bad eating habits curbside the swimmer’s hard work in and out of the pool!

Jill Castle, MS, RDN is a childhood nutrition expert and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School (www.fearlessfeeding.com). She is the creator of Just The Right Byte (www.justtherightbyte.com), and is working on her next book, entitled Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete. She lives with her husband and four children in New Canaan, CT

  

3 Nutrients Young Swimmers Shouldn’t Miss

 

10/14/2014

By Jill Castle, MS, RDN

Nutrition plays a key role in performance and recovery. But for the young swimmer, it also supports growth and development. While there are important nutrients for swimming, such carbohydrates and protein, there are also micronutrients that may be at risk for deficiency, like iron, calcium, and vitamin D. 

 

Of course, any nutrient can fall short of needs if the diet is inadequate compared to the requirements. Deficiencies should always be addressed in the growing athlete.


Three nutrients – iron, calcium and vitamin D—stand out as high-risk nutrients for the young swimmer. One, because they are already known to be deficient in children and teens, in general, and two, because they may be harder for the growing athlete to get enough.  Here’s the lowdown on each nutrient, including recommended levels of intake, and food sources:

 

Iron

Iron carries and stores oxygen, which occurs at a higher level during periods of growth (read: childhood and adolescence). Female athletes, in particular, are at greater risk for this deficiency due to menses and exercise. 

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), 9% of 12-49 year-old women are iron-deficient. Swimmers who cut back on their eating or consume a vegetarian diet are at increased risk for iron deficiency. 

Requirements:
4-8 year olds: 10 mg/day
9-13 year olds: 8 mg/day
14-18 year olds: 15 mg/day (females); 11 mg/day (males)

Iron comes from animal and plant sources, with animal sources being more efficiently absorbed in the body. The less efficient absorption of plant iron can be enhanced by vitamin C-containing foods like citrus fruit and juices.

Food Sources: beef, ground beef, dark meat turkey and chicken, canned light tuna in water, iron-fortified cereals, instant oatmeal, enriched bagels and breads, black beans, white beans, spinach and raisins

Calcium

Calcium is needed for normal bone development and strength, and is required for muscle contraction. All children and teens are at risk for calcium deficiency, but especially teens because they tend to eat and drink less dairy products as they age. Ironically, this is the time when they need calcium the most! Peak bone formation occurs in the teenage years and is completed in the early 20’s.

Requirements:
4-8 year olds: 1000 mg/day
9-13 year olds: 1300 mg/day
14-18 year olds: 1300 mg/day

Food sources: ready-to-eat cereals, calcium-fortified orange juice, cow’s milk, soymilk, yogurt, cheese, salmon, tofu, frozen yogurt, vanilla ice cream, cottage cheese, turnip greens, kale, Bok choy, broccoli, and white bread (calcium-fortified).

Vitamin D

Vitamin D partners with calcium to build bones. It has also been identified in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease and infectious disease. Sunlight activates vitamin D in the skin, but sunscreen, cloud cover, dark-colored skin, and other factors may limit its effectiveness as a source of vitamin D. 

Requirements:
All kids and teens need 600 IU/day.

It’s not easy to meet vitamin D requirements because there are few foods that are rich sources of this nutrient, and the obvious foods like dairy products aren’t always consumed in the needed amounts (6 cups of milk equals 600 IU vitamin D). The combination of vitamin D-rich foods and sunshine are key to making sure the swimmer gets enough. For swimmers who practice indoors, getting adequate vitamin D from food (or a supplement) is critical.

Food sources: sockeye salmon, smoked salmon, canned tuna, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, milk, soymilk, rice drink, cooked pork, fortified ready-to-eat cereals, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, and eggs.

Iron, calcium and vitamin D are essential to the growing swimmer’s health and wellness, not to mention his athletic performance. Keep these three nutrients top of mind and you may avoid some significant roadblocks to training along the way.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN is a childhood nutrition expert and co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School (www.fearlessfeeding.com). She is the creator of Just The Right Byte (www.justtherightbyte.com), and is working on her next book, entitled Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete. She lives with her husband and four children in New Canaan, CT

 

Chocolate Milk

Below is an artice on post training recovery. Studies show that a simple glass of chocolate milk can aid recovery.

 

Journal Med Sport Sci.
2012;59:127-34. doi: 10.1159/000341954. Epub 2012 Oct 15.
Department of Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA 98926- 7552, USA. kkerr@cwu.edu

Abstract

An optimal post-exercise nutrition regimen is fundamental for ensuring recovery. Therefore, research has aimed to examine post-exercise nutritional strategies for enhanced training stimuli. Chocolate milk has become an affordable recovery beverage for many athletes, taking the place of more expensive commercially available recovery beverages. Low-fat chocolate milk consists of a 4:1 carbohydrate:protein ratio (similar to many commercial recovery beverages) and provides fluids and sodium to aid in post-workout recovery. Consuming chocolate milk (1.0-1.5•g•kg(-1) h(-1)) immediately after exercise and again at 2 h post-exercise appears to be optimal for exercise recovery and may attenuate indices of muscle damage. Future research should examine the optimal amount, timing, and frequency of ingestion of chocolate milk on post-exercise recovery measures including performance, indices of muscle damage, and muscle glycogen resynthesis.

Full text: S. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland

 

 

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