Should I use protein supplements?
Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions
I am a male swimmer in my early forties training for a 10k swim. Do you recommend that I use protein supplements to aid recovery between sessions, or is this not necessary?
When training hard, protein is important to assist with recovery and can help build muscle. There are several different types of protein powder and it can get a bit confusing. Whey protein is the most common type of protein in protein powders. It is fast absorbing and is ideal for post-workout. Casein protein is the richest in glutamine, which is an amino acid that aids recovery, but is the slowest to digest, so it ideal to take before before bed as it can deliver essential nutrients throughout the night. When training, taking protein at different times has different benefits to your body.
Immediately after a swim: When training, the most important time to take protein is straight after your workout, as your muscles will soak up the nutrition for muscle recovery and growth.
First thing in the morning: Taking a protein shake first thing in the morning is a good way to get essential nutrients after eight hours of sleep.
There are also a number of great ways you can use protein powder besides in a shake – try pancakes, cookies and muffins. However, I would not rely on protein powder only. Try and fill your diet with food that is rich in protein. I hope this helps.
“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”
Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events. She answers reader questions in each issue of Outdoor Swimmer.