For athletes, proper nutrition is critical for maintaining good health and experiencing consistent gains in performance and endurance. Youths, particularly, need the right micronutrients for their overall physical development, preventing physical ailments later in life.
A healthy diet consists of a bevy of macro- and micronutrients, as illustrated in Canada’s Food Guide. That said, most of these recommendations are based on the average youth/adult Canadian—the more active the person, the more nutrients he or she needs. Here are a few of the micronutrients that swimmers need to boost in their diets.
Iron maintains a healthy level of red blood cells. A low red blood cell count can lead to anemia—a condition nearly 10 percent of Americans suffer from—characterized by extreme exhaustion during everyday activities, let alone laps in the pool.
Calcium aids in the development of strong bones. For youths under 20, this is especially true—bone formation does not complete until later in adulthood.
Athletes deficient in B vitamins experience fatigue and cramping more often because they lack the micronutrients necessary to metabolize energy.
Swimming pools use chlorine to control bacterial growth. While effective, this chemical can cause dryness and irritation for some swimmers. Vitamin C can counter these effects as it supports a healthy immune system and good skin, dental and bone health.
For athletes of all ages, it’s sometimes difficult to satisfy the recommended protein intake. Supplements like whey protein can pack 30 grams of low sugar, low carb protein into a single scoop. Particularly after swim sessions, whey protein makes for a great post-recovery shake in water or milk.
Exercise increases oxidation in the body so increasing Vitamin E, an antioxidant, protects the muscles from damage. Consuming adequate levels of vitamin E can also reduce post-swimming soreness.