A healthy diet will help you train harder, perform better, recover faster, reduce your chances of illness and gain a competitive edge. Here are some tips to help you plan a healthy training diet:

Before training
Fuel up: Eat a meal 2–3 hours before training (carb & protein & fat – low GI)
Hydrate properly: drink 200 - 300ml 2h before swimming

Suitable pre-training meals:

  • Jacket potato with cheese, tuna or baked beans plus veg Pasta with tomato-based sauce or pesto; cheese, tuna or chicken; plus veg
  • Rice with chicken, fish or beans plus veg
  • One pot dish with pulses, veg, lean meat or fish PLUS potatoes or pasta
  • Sandwich/ toast with tuna, cheese, chicken or peanut butter

If you don’t have time for a meal (eg early morning training), have a snack 30 min before training with 200 – 300 ml water. You should NEVER train on empty!

Pre-training snacks:

  • Toast (wholegrain) with honey or jam
  • A banana (or other fresh fruit)
  • A handful of dried fruit (e.g. raisins, apricots)
  • A cereal bar
  • Porridge or wholegrain breakfast cereal with milk

During training:

  • Prevent dehydration: drink plenty
  • Refuel (if training hard for > 1 hour): carbs
  • drink around 300 - 500 ml per hour
  • drink little and often, ideally every 15 – 20 minutes If training for 1 hour: water or sugar free squash


For more information and easy healthy recipes: Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes by Anita Bean, available from www.amazon.co.uk Or book shops. www.anitabean.co.uk

For training sessions lasting longer than 1 hour, swimmers may find that consuming additional fuel (in the form of a drink or as food), helps maintain their performance and delays fatigue.

Suitable drinks include:

  • Squash (diluted at least 1 to 6) - regular or 'high juice' squash Diluted fruit juice (diluted at least 1 to 1)
  • Water - plus a snack (see below)

Mid-training snacks:

  • A banana
  • A cereal or granola bar
  • A handful (40 - 50g) of raisins or other dried fruit


These foods should be accompanied by a drink of water!


Avoid the following (they are too concentrated in sugars and lack useful nutrients):

  • Sweets
  • Jelly cubes or jelly sweets
  • 'Energy' tablets or glucose tablets Energy drinks


After training:


  • Re-hydrate: drink straight away (water or diluted juice) Refuel: carb & protein snack within 30 min
  • 500 ml milk
  • One banana plus a handful of nuts
  • 2 pots (2 x 150g) of fruit yoghurt
  • One cereal bar plus 1 pot of fruit yoghurt Wholemeal sandwich or toast with peanut butter or cheese


For more information and easy healthy recipes: Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes by Anita Bean, available from www.amazon.co.uk Or book shops. www.anitabean.co.uk

©Anita Bean BSc RNutr.


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