As swimmers, we always want to know what will make us better or how we can make that next big movement in our swimming career. We hear about the importance of nutrition and how it helps our body recover, but we don’t always implement it in the way that we should. Many swimmer’s start eating really healthy before their big end of the season meet, and then they go crazy on the junk food and sweets during post season. Is that really what we should be doing? Katie Meili, USA Bronze Medalist in the 100 meter breaststroke at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, has some advice for us on how to keep up with nutrition throughout the season!
Q: When did you start taking nutrition seriously as an athlete?
A: Nutrition and eating well have always been important to me. Growing up, my mom wanted to make sure that I had the proper fuel I needed. I started taking nutrition more seriously as an athlete when I went to college and found myself in an “all-you-can-eat” dining hall situation. I started doing research and tried to learn what I needed as an athlete.
Q: How do you stay on top of nutrition throughout the season?
A: If I don’t keep my nutrition a priority, my training will suffer, so it’s easy to stay on top of it throughout the season. I try to plan for the coming week on the weekends so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
Q: What advice would you give swimmers looking to better their nutrition?
A: Do your homework! Failing to prepare is preparing for failure. There are plenty of helpful websites and books out there to help you learn what to eat, when to eat it, and how to make it. If you make the commitment to prepare your meals and understand what you need to eat, you will improve your overall nutrition.
Q: What does your pre-season, mid-season and post-season nutrition regime look like? Are they similar or different?
A: Overall, they are pretty similar. For me personally, I am usually in caloric deficiency, meaning I burn more calories than I can take in. Because of this, my biggest challenge is eating enough food. It’s nice because I can generally eat whatever I want (and some days I do!), but I think it’s important to fuel my body with the right types of food. I try to have some type of meat with a protein-packed salad or side (like quinoa or lentils), and I love vegetables! As championship season approaches and my practices become a little less intense, I try to increase my protein and decrease my carb intake.
Q: When do you typically treat yourself? Everyone loves a cheat day!
A: After a particularly hard practice or training session, nothing tastes better than a chocolate bar or a sweet treat. I also love ice cream!