Swimmers are world-renown for their appetite.
Even though Michael Phelps and his 12k calorie diet was a bit of a myth, intuitively it made sense at the time. After all, it’s pretty easy to imagine competitive swimmers, after a long day of crushing swim practices, hunched over a large bowl, speed-spooning pasta into the hole below their nose.
But because we work out so much, we don’t always make the best food decisions. We justify this based on our training load, sure, but also because, well, we are so friggin tired most of the time. The idea of spending half an hour making a healthy meal after a long day of training doesn’t sound very appealing.
Here is why you should spend one afternoon each week doing meal prep:
Swimmers have a crazy schedule. Two-a-days, 10ish sessions a week, and an endless season. Typically the last thing we want to do when we get home after a long day of training and school/work is spend half an hour making a healthy meal.
I can’t count how many times I collapsed into the couch after a pair of 6k workouts and a full day of school and thought—“I’m gonna order myself a pizza. I deserve it.”
Pretty easy to justify the convenience when you’ve been run ragged over the day. But when you have ready-made meals sitting for you in the fridge, the healthy choice becomes the easy choice.
The less resistance you have between you and a healthy meal the better. Meal prepping takes away a lot of the resistance.
You eat better, more often.
“Tomorrow I will start eating better.”
How often have you caught yourself saying that? If you’re like me it’s usually while you were two-handing a three-patty burger from your local fast food spot.
Meal prepping gives you control over your meals. Because you are choosing and planning your meals you are simply going to eat better.
All too often we eat according to the whims of our cravings and at what level our willpower is at.
Instead of being victim to those things, which are unreliable and leave us feeling not so hot on ourselves when we succumb to a junk craving, meal prepping gives you the best chance possible to eat healthy more often.
Save some cashola.
One of the top reasons I hear from athletes who can’t or won’t improve things in the kitchen is that it is more expensive to eat well.
That’s simply not true.
The first time you go shopping for everything you will need to properly meal prep you will scoff at this. But the savings become apparent when you realize that you aren’t going out for food as much, or buying food in un-bulk.
When you are buying chicken, rice, quinoa, veggies, whatever—in bulk, you start to save some cashola. Which means that you gain some weight in your wallet. Heyo!
Sure, the first time you meal prep for a full week you will flail around, screw up here and there, and wash more dishes than you thought imaginable.
But after doing it a couple times you will notice one remarkably awesome thing—you’ve got yourself a whole bunch of free time. The time that it takes to meal prep for a week can take a couple hours. (Maybe faster depending on how well you can multi-task.)
If you fully commit to the process that means having 3 meals a day for the next 7 days (not including breakfast). Now, think about how much time you spend debating what to eat for each of those 21 meals, and then the time required to put those meals together.
It’s like daily savings for swimmers. But every day.
The Next Step
Getting a grip on your nutrition can be a struggle for most swimmers.
With our massive training loads it’s easy to justify not eating well in the name of “Oh, it’s all good—I work out lots.” But meal prepping gives you the power to decide what you are going to eat instead of having your willpower (or lack thereof) dictate what you stuff in your mouth-hole.
What’s the next step?
Meet with a sports dietitian and have them put together a meal plan that is based on your build and your activity level (that second part is crucial for swimmers). It’s the best money you will ever spend.
You can’t really put a price tag on the health benefits (and subsequent performance benefits) that comes with finally eating well.
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.
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