You're a stellar competitor when it comes to rowing, but can your focus and stamina last the full race? Rowers who want to compete at advanced levels must supplement a rigorous training program with a healthy diet. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet consistently can help improve your performance on the water. You will be able to get back in the saddle faster after intense training sessions, cutting down your recovery time. A healthy diet can also help you build muscle mass, supplying the stamina and endurance you need to outlast your competitors.
When it comes to eating right for a rowing competition, carbohydrates are the most important nutrient to get into your system. Carbohydrates provide the muscle glycogen stores, or the fuel your muscles rely on for power during exercise. Rowers should try to consume 2.5 grams of carbs for every pound of body weight. To ensure you are getting enough carbs consistently, eat black beans, bananas, apples, whole grains, broccoli and green leafy vegetables.
Rowing is an intense sport, requiring your major muscle groups, especially your quadriceps, biceps and the muscles of your back, to work to their full potential. After a training session, these muscles will need time to recover, as well as adequate amounts of protein. Take in about 0.6 grams of protein for every pound of your body weight. Good sources for protein include lean meats, low fat dairy products, tofu and nuts.
Some athletes avoid fat, but dietary fat can be an important part of your diet, helping the production of hormones that are in turn a fuel source for those long rows on the lake. But certain fats can be harmful or put you at risk of heart disease. These include saturated and trans fats. Limit fat intake to monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in almonds, soybeans and extra virgin olive oil.
Some rowers exercise to lose weight, attempting to burn more calories on the water than they take in. However, calories are still an important part of your daily consumption, ensuring that you maintain an appropriate weight and muscle mass while enduring your training sessions. If you are training consistently at intense levels of competition, you should aim to take in 20 calories for every pound of weight. That said, advanced rowers who have mastered an efficient technique will burn fewer calories and need to take in fewer calories than beginner rowers.
A healthy diet includes not only what foods you eat, but also what you drink. Water intake is an important part of a rower's nutrition. Failure to take in enough can cause you to become dehydrated, which often leads to muscle cramps and fatigue. Replace lost fluids by always having water on hand and drinking frequently as you exercise.
When to Eat
Rowers should have their pre-event or workout meal three or four hours before rowing. This will allow you to digest and use the energy from your meal. Aim for a meal of around 500 to 1,000 calories. After a competition or intense workout, eat a small meal with carbohydrates, fats and proteins 30 minutes after exercise to replenish carbs and encourage protein synthesis.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.