How to Fuel Guide: Pool Swimming Competitions
BY STEVE BORN
This step-by-step fueling protocol is super easy to put together, it’s just as easy to follow, and best of all, it’s highly effective.
Before you get to the fueling protocol, here is some very important and useful information...
5 Simple Ways to Improve Athletic Performance Now
While there are numerous steps that you can (and should) take to optimize athletic performance, here are a couple of super easy ones. Start with this right away, and you’ll experience noticeably rapid improvement in your endurance and overall exercise performance.
1) Stay properly hydrated all day long. With approximately 60% of your body being comprised of water, it goes without saying that it’s vital to maintain optimal hydration all day. Unfortunately, a lot of people— perhaps you?—live in a state of perpetual dehydration, which negatively affects athletic performance and overall health. Starting now, gradually increase your fluid intake—primarily from pure, clean water—so that the total number of ounces you’re drinking daily is equal to 0.5 to 0.6 of your body weight in pounds (e.g., 180-lb. person should consume 90 – 108 ounces of fluids daily in addition to what is being consumed during exercise). During exercise, drink 16-26 ounces per hour and up to 28 ounces per hour during hot weather.
2) Fuel lean. It’s interesting to know how many calories you’re burning every hour during exercise; however, those amounts aren’t a factor in terms of how many calories your body can accept in return for your fuel donation. The goal of caloric intake is to consume the least amount necessary to maintain energy levels where you want and need them to be hour after hour. For most athletes, this represents an intake of 120-180 calories per hour. Larger athletes (200+ lbs.) can consume 200 or slightly more calories. And if you find that’s not quite enough calories, that’s an easy fix—you consume a few more. Remember, it is ALWAYS easier to fix a “not enough” problem than an “uh oh, I overdid it, and now my stomach is rebelling” problem.
3) Ditch the sugar. Most fuels are comprised of short-chain carbohydrates, also known as simple sugars (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.) Hammer Nutrition fuels do not contain any simple sugars; instead, we use maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate. Both maltodextrin and some simple sugars will boost energy levels quickly, which is a desirable benefit. However, with simple sugars—because they are comprised of only one or two saccharide molecules—will drop your energy levels just about as quickly. Constantly feeling great for a few minutes, then fighting your way out of an energy rut for several minutes—commonly referred to as ”flash and crash”—is no way to enjoy a round of golf. Conversely, because maltodextrin is MANY saccharide molecules weakly linked together, you enjoy quick-acting and much longer-lasting energy without any wild fluctuations in energy levels. Another great thing with maltodextrin is that your body can digest greater amounts of calories—with no delay from entry to exit of the digestive tract—and make them available for energy production. You can efficiently digest up to 3x more calories with maltodextrin than any simple sugar, which basically eliminates stomach distress issues.
4) Don’t eat for 3 hours before exercise. By refraining from consuming any calories in the 3 hours before your workouts and rounds of golf, you put your body in the ideal physiological state to use its finite stores of cellular fuel (muscle glycogen) most efficiently while also utilizing the vast amounts of calories from body fat stores more effectively. Adopt this practice in all your workouts and rounds of golf—even the early morning ones—and you’ll start seeing massive improvements in your endurance in a relatively short time. Note: If you must have some calories before the start of exercise, consuming something that’s easy to digest (e.g., a serving of Hammer Gel) 5-10 minutes before the start—but no further out—is acceptable.
5) “Refill the tank” ASAP after all your workouts. Your body wants to reward you for your efforts in training, strengthening the immune system, rebuilding muscle tissue, and storing more minutes of readily available fuel (glycogen) in the muscles. All you have to do to enjoy all of these endurance-enhancing benefits is supply your body with the materials it needs right away—ideally within the first 30 minutes after exercise (the sooner, the better)—meaning complex carbohydrates and high-quality protein such as found in Recoverite and Organic Vegan Recoverite.
1) Success "during" starts "after"! It’s absolutely vital that you "refill the tank" after all your workouts... this is a major key for noticeably enhancing athletic performance. When you begin a workout or event/race, the primary fuel your body uses for the first 60-90 minutes or so is known as muscle glycogen. The more consistent you are with ASAP post-exercise fueling—Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite is ideal for that— among the many benefits you'll receive is more minutes of glycogen stored in the muscles—maxing out at somewhere between 60-90 minutes—ready to serve you in future workouts and races.
2) Finish all calorie consumption 3 hours prior to start. See #4 in the earlier article as to why this is so important. NOTE: If the end of your warmup is within close proximity of the start of your first race (as it will most likely be), your calorie consumption should end 3 hours prior to the start of your warmup.
3) “Pre-emptive strike” dose of Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme. Taking a dose of Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme shortly prior to your warmup will cover your electrolytic mineral needs for your first race. The dose of Endurolytes can be anywhere from 1-6 capsules, with most athletes using 2-4 capsules, the amount dependent on body weight and temperature conditions. If you’re competing in extremely hot/humid conditions (indoors or out)—and especially if you’re not acclimated to those conditions—or if you have unusually high sweat rates (i.e., you “sweat buckets”), I suggest taking a pre-race dose of 1-2 Endurolytes Extreme capsules shortly prior to your warmup.
4) Consume 1 serving of Hammer Gel 5-10 minutes prior to your first race.* Consuming 1 serving of Hammer Gel at this time will supply some calories to augment muscle glycogen stores but without interfering with the efficiency of how your body will use its finite stores of muscle glycogen as a fuel source.
*Many swimmers like to consume a serving of Hammer Gel prior to each race, especially the longer-distance ones (e.g., 800 meters, 1500 meters, etc.), and that’s perfectly acceptable. More on that below.
5) Fuel selection during the race. If you’re doing multiple races during the meet, you have a couple of great options to ensure that you’re supplying your body with sufficient amounts of calories, fluids, and electrolytes, prior to and after each race.
- Finish all pre-meet calorie consumption prior to the start of your warmup.
- Take your dose of Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme shortly before your warmup.
- If you have 10-15 (or so) minutes prior to the start of your first race, you can sip on a bottle of HEED, mixed in 16-26 ounces of water. 1.0 to 1.5 scoops of HEED contain 110-165 calories, an excellent amount to keep some calories incoming between warmup and race start. You certainly don’t need to consume the entire bottle prior to the start; save the rest for consumption after your first race and before your next race.
- Consume 1 serving of Hammer Gel 5-10 minutes prior to your first race. If you’ve been sipping on a bottle of HEED, which will be supplying your body with calories for energy production, this pre-race Hammer Gel is optional, though again, many swimmers like to consume 1 serving prior to the start of all their races, especially the longer ones.
After Race #1 and before Race #2
- If you have up to 90 minutes between races, you can continue to drink HEED to keep your body “topped off” with fluids, calories, and electrolytes.
- If it will be between 90 minutes to 2.5 hours prior to the start of your next race, consider using Hammer Nutrition’s “meal in a bottle” fuel, Perpetuem, to keep your body supplied with calories and fluids. 1-2 scoops of Perpetuem (90-180 calories) should be a completely sufficient amount.
- If it will be closer to 2.5 hours between races, you can also munch on a Hammer Bar.
- If you have 2.5 to 3+ hours between races, start consuming 1 serving (2 scoops) of Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite ASAP after the race has been completed. After that, you may continue to consume some calories (don’t overeat, however!), from Perpetuem and/or a Hammer Bar.
- If it will be longer than 60 minutes before the start of your next race, take another dose of Endurolytes or Endurolytes Extreme halfway through your “off” time between races.
- Consume 1 serving of Hammer Gel 5-10 minutes prior, if desired.
Continue to follow this protocol throughout the entire meet.
ASAP after your last race
“Refill the tank” with Recoverite or Organic Vegan Recoverite. Refueling your body with two scoops of Recoverite within the first 30 minutes after your last race takes advantage of the glycogen synthase enzyme when it’s most active. This allows the body to replenish and increase its stores of glycogen, while also providing the raw materials (the amino acids from protein) to help rebuild the muscle tissue and support the immune system.