Is swimming after eating dangerous?

Nutrition and hydration tips

Whether you are swimming competitively or for exercise, fuelling your body before and after your swim session is important for optimising performance. Eating properly and at the right times can build your cardio fitness and strength. It doesn’t only help you during the session but can help your body to recover after. But what and when should you eat?

Before your swim

It is good to eat at least one hour before you dive in to allow for the digestive system to break down and process the food, extracting all the important nutrients you need for your swim. The nutrients are absorbed into the blood supply, helping your muscles work effectively and efficiently. Swimming too soon after eating can cause cramps, indigestion, abdominal discomfort and gastric reflux.

If you have time to build in that hour gap before you swim, great pre-swim foods can be porridge oats, sweet potatoes, beans, wholegrain breads and pasta, unsalted nuts and peas. Don’t have the hour? Looking for the same energy with a quicker absorption? Try a small handful of jellied sweets, cereal/energy bar, carbohydrate energy gels or bananas.

It is important to know what you should eat but also what you shouldn’t. Eat foods you are used to, so you feel comfortable and avoid the risk of an upset.  Avoid excess fatty foods, excess caffeine intakes, excess fibre and particularly spicy foods. Before a swim keep snacks smaller so the body can easily absorb them, so avoid having too much fibre.

After a swim

Foods after a swim are crucial to help your body recover from the physical exertion. Aim to eat within an hour of finishing your swim session to replenish nutrient and energy levels.

The initial carbohydrates you consumed before your swim have been converted to glycogen to encourage healthy muscle function during the sessions, so your stores need to be topped up. It’s best to do this through lean proteins, including chicken, turkey, oily fish, Quorn, peanut butter, brown rice, low fat milk, or cheese.

Food is important for your body’s preparation and recovery before and after exercise. However, as well as food, it’s important to stay hydrated. While it isn’t as noticeable in the water you will sweat as you would do cycling or running so it’s important to keep those fluids up!

With the right food and fluids, you will be powering up and down those lanes consistently in no time!

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