You may have heard the warning to wait 30 minutes after eating before swimming, but this is simply a myth. The medical community has confirmed that your biggest danger related to eating and swimming is probably a minor cramp (Duke University Health). But, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the most of what we eat, whether as a competitive or casual swimmer.
A key factor in determining the right pre-swim food is the item’s glycemic index (GI). Per BBC Good Food, a food’s GI measures how quickly it is digested and broken down into glucose. Lower GI foods, give a slower release of energy. High GI foods are quickly broken down into glucose and more readily available for energy.
As such, your pre-swimming meal or snack depends on how much time you have before you start. If you have little time to snag a bite, try a higher GI carbohydrate to boost your energy. These will be quickly absorbed for your swim. Examples include an energy gel, a banana or cereal bar.
Below, SwimSwam’s nutritional guide breaks down pre-swim nutrition even further depending on the timespan prior to working out.
- 2 hours before training: Toast and boiled eggs, or a sandwich with ham or chicken, or a baked potato with cheese and beans, or a rice bowl with lean meat and veggies.
- 1 hour before training: whole-grain cereal and milk, or granola and low-fat yogurt, or toast with a small amount of peanut butter and jelly or a homemade smoothie made with fruit and yogurt.
- 30 mins before practice as you don’t have much time to digest your food, choose a light carbohydrate snack such as a banana, or a granola bar, or a bagel, or raisin bread.
Remember to hydrate properly throughout the day as well as during your workout.
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