Row Better with the Right Nutrition


Rowers are back on the water, even though we expect snow in the next few days! As a rower, you train hard, and need to support your training with good nutrition and attention to hydration.

Carbohydrates are a key fuel for rowers. One study looked at how carbohydrate intake affected performance.

The researchers looked at collegiate level rowers. They measured their power output in time trials. The high carbohydrate group (10 grams/kg of body weight/day) had a 10.7% increase in time trial power output! The group with 5 grams/kg had a 1.6% improvement. The “take home message” is to be sure that you include plenty of high quality carbohydrates in your daily diet. High quality carbohydrates include whole grains (cereal, pasta,breads, rice), fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, and dairy products.

Rowers are at risk for GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) because of working in a crouched over position. Symptoms of GERD include a heartburn feeling, indigestion, and regurgitation. For some tips to manage GERD, check out this article from Livestrong.

Because it may feel cool on the water you may not remember to stay hydrated. The estimated sweat loss on the water in cool conditions is 1200 ml/hour for men and 800 ml for women.  For hot conditions this increases to 2 liters/hour for men and 1400 ml/hour for women. This translates into 5-8 cups of water for men and 3-6 cups for women. If you have a break between pieces in the session try to get some water or sports drink. Whatever you can’t make up during your session you will want to drink at the end of the session.

Rowers typically use more fuel and lose more fluid during training than during competition. Keep up your carbohydrate intake and replace fluid after each session, and you should be on track for a productive season.

​copyright 2016 Kathleen Searles, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN

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