Let’s find out what you should EAT after training to replenish your energy resources as effectively as possible!
You have just finished a morning/afternoon/evening training session. You have probably got two things on your mind. The first could be summed up by the exclamation “I’m so tired!”, but that would depend on the kind of training you have just done. The second thing (and in this case it does not matter what kind of training you have been doing) can be summed up by “I’m so hungry!”.
Having said all that, let’s take a look at what to eat AFTER training.
Just as you need to be careful about what you eat before training to get the most out of it, likewise you need to be just as careful about the food you take in after training to replenish your energy resources.
It is worth pointing something out straight away: post-training nutrition does not just mean the main meal after training, for example lunch after a morning session. That is because anything from 1 hour to 2-3 hours might go by from the moment you leave the water to when you sit down to eat.
That is why a post-training snack is so important.
After a relatively hard session, your body needs replenishing and a snack can certainly help restore, for example, your glycogen levels or help along the muscle-repair process (your muscles are actually damaged during training and need to be repaired!). Another big thing in favour of a snack is that it takes the edge off that ancestral appetite that makes you eat more during your main meal than you actually need in order to recuperate properly.
So when should I eat my snack?
There is a timeframe (anabolic window) of approximately 30 minutes after the end of training when your body is particularly predisposed to assimilate what it takes in to repair your muscles. In theory, you should finish swimming, leave the pool, go to the changing room, take a quick shower and then eat something before you get dressed. If, on the other hand, you plan to take a particularly long shower, then eat before you get washed.
What should a post-training snack contain?
Mainly carbohydrates and proteins that are quickly assimilated. Here are a few suggestions:
The only advice about your main meal after training is to make sure it contains the right balance of carbohydrates (more at lunchtime, less in the evening), proteins (this time the other way round, less at lunch and more at dinner) and fats.
An important thing to note about both main meals and post-training snacks is to drink a lot (water or sports drinks, but with no artificial colourants), because even swimmers lose plenty of liquids. But we’ll talk about that in a forthcoming article!