If your training volume is high or your life is simply hectic, it can be hard to include lots of vegetables into your diet. Swimmers in particular seem to let vegetable intake go by the wayside favoring more a heavier refined carb and protein heavy diets. However, vegetables are very important for swimmers and athletes in general.
I single out their importance for swimmers because swimmers are exposed to a lot more toxins and germs than the typical person. Since we spend so much time in a chemical laced pool that not only has chlorine and other treatments added to it but a whole host of bodily fluids (I will not give out any particulars but you can only imagine what I mean). Vegetables therefore can help boost your immune system and fight off colds.
Athletes also need vegetables to help fight inflammation and prevent the body from becoming too acidic, which can happen if you consume too many sports drinks, gels, and meat. Eating vegetables can help naturally speed recovery from workouts.
Vegetables are also hydrating. Being mostly water, vegetables will keep you hydrated without having you to chug water. The minerals found in vegetables will help prevent hyponatremia, or drinking too much water.
The problem arises though with scheduling. Most triathletes and swimmers have a similar schedule: wake up, have a cup of coffee, go to the pool, head straight to work while chomping down a recovery bar or a bagel, a takeout lunch at work with coworkers, then dinner with the family when you get home–maybe a pre-made meal you picked up on your way home or a frozen dinner. Chances are there is not a lot of green in there besides a side salad or a garnish of lettuce.
There is a lot of room to incorporate vegetables though:
- Premake a recovery smoothie for after your morning swim. In that smoothie you can blend some spinach, broccoli stalks, avocado, carrots, and fruit (for sweetness).
- Pack a big salad for lunch: Brown bagging lunch not only saves you money but also is healthier. Don’t worry about feeling like an outsider or the odd ball; reassure yourself that you are fueling your body properly.
- Make vegetables the base of your dinner: Instead of making meat or pasta the focus of your meal swap in some vegetables like spaghetti squash, roasted kale chips, or stuffed zucchini boats. If you have kids, this can be difficult but with some creativity you can sneak some vegetables in.
Coach Chris and Kev