Whether you’re taking lessons or training for competitions, swimming can be one of the most tiring activities. This makes it extremely important to properly fuel your body before hitting the water. The food you eat beforehand greatly affects your performance, so make sure you’re eating the right stuff!
When to eat
While it’s important to eat beforehand, make sure not to eat right before you enter the water. The amount of time it takes for your digestive system to assimilate food can vary from person to person, but ideally, you should wait 2-4 hours after eating a meal. If you just had a small, energy-boosting snack, give yourself around 30 minutes before you start swimming.
What to eat
What you eat is usually determined by what time of the day you plan to swim. If you have the time, aim to eat a full meal with slow releasing carbohydrates a few hours before you swim. Although they take some time to digest, they are great at fueling your body and energizing you for a longer period of time. Examples of slow releasing carbs are complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, and oats.
If you can’t eat a full meal due to scheduling problems, or you prefer swimming early in the morning, you may opt for an energizing snack 30 minutes before you swim. Having a smoothie or a serving of yogurt is a great way of energizing your body without stressing out your digestive system. You could also have a serving of fruit, some raisins, cereal, or a simple energy bar.
For people that like to swim first thing in the morning, planning the night before is also an option. Having a dinner meal high in carbohydrates will result in glycogen stored in your muscles to fuel you the next morning.
Foods to avoid
Just as there are certain foods to take in, there are some that should be avoided. These would be any kind of food that you know causes you gastrointestinal distress. Common examples of such food would be excessively fatty, spicy, or fiber-rich food. It would also be good to stay away from caffeinated, and of course, alcoholic beverages.
Swimmers always want to perform at their best, so make sure to fuel your body the right way!