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Originally Published: Sep 19, 2019

By:  Meghan Boyle, Dietetic Intern, West Chester University for Margaret Moses, MBA, RDN, ACE Certified Health Coach

The average swimmer burns 500 calories during 1 hour of swimming, so it is important to fuel yourself properly before and after practice to get the best results! Here are some of the basic building blocks for proper nutrition as well as recommendations for what to eat before and after a workout.

Learn the basics:

Carbohydrates:  main source of energy for your muscles.

  • Sources:  Grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy products, sugars
    • Simple sugars – broken down into sugar in the blood very quickly:  table sugar, white bread, white rice, pasta, soda, candy, cookies
    • Complex sugars – whole fruits/ veggies, 100% whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, beans, oats, bran, quinoa

Protein:  building blocks for bones, muscles, skin, blood, enzymes, hormones, and vitamins.

  • Sources:
    • Plant: nuts, seeds, beans, soy (tofu, tempeh, seitan, soymilk/yogurt/cheese)
    • Animal: beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy (milk/cheese/yogurt)

Fats: nutrients in food that the body uses to build nerve tissue (including the brain and nerves) and hormones

  • Sources: Oils, nuts/seeds, fatty fish, avocado, etc.

Pre-training Meals/Snacks:

These meals should consist of a carbohydrate and a protein source. The amount of each depends on the timing prior to training or a meet. The more time you have prior to each, the more you can eat.


  • 2 hours before training: Toast and boiled eggs, or a sandwich with ham or chicken, or a baked potato with cheese and beans, or a rice bowl with lean meat and veggies.
  • 1 hour before training:  whole-grain cereal and milk, or granola and low-fat yogurt, or toast with a small amount of peanut butter and jelly or a homemade smoothie made with fruit and yogurt.
  • 30 mins before practice:  banana,  granola bar, bagel, or raisin bread.

Always include a drink so that you start practice hydrated!


Aim for a quick, low fat snack within 30 minutes of the completion of training. The snack should contain mostly carbohydrate (40 – 80g) with some protein (10-20g). The portion sizes listed below conform to the gram requirements. Always include fluids to hydrate!

Carbohdrate Sources:Protein Sources:
2 large bananas1 Cup low fat Greek yogurt
2 Cups cereal (Cheerios, Wheaties, Kashi)1 Cup low fat milk
2 Slices whole wheat bread3 Tablespoons peanut butter
2 Pieces fruitChocolate milk
2 Slices whole wheat toast2 Eggs