What to eat before and after swimming
Which energy-rich foods will help you swim for longer, and which are best avoided? Here’s how to eat smart, before and after swimming.
- Pre-swim foods
- Post-swim foods
- Healthy snacks for swimmers
- Swimming for weight loss
- Foods swimmers should avoid
- Hydration in the pool
What should I eat before a swim?
Foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal pasta, sweet potatoes and brown rice, are a great source of energy for swimmers. A diet that contains these slow release carbs will keep you energized and help you swim for longer but they can take time to digest.
If you need an energy boost just before a swim go for a mix of lean protein and carbs - smoothies are a great way to nourish your body with all the nutrients you need, without putting pressure on your digestive system. Just ensure you leave plenty of time (up to an hour, ideally) before you jump in the pool to avoid feeling bloated. And if you’re swimming to lose weight, choosing a low-fat, lower-calorie pre-swim snack, or a smaller portion instead could help you ditch the pounds quicker.
What and when to eat after swimming?
Eating after exercise is important for recovery, even if you’re aiming to lose weight. Aim to refuel your body within 20-30 minutes of swimming with a mixture of muscle-repairing protein and glycogen-restoring carbohydrates. For a light meal, try almond butter on oat cakes, or nut butter, banana, honey and chia seeds on toast (see below for the recipe). A good post-swim main meal might be a baked sweet potato with some lean protein like chicken, or fish.
Healthy snacks for swimmers
Dates are a great energy boosting, pre-workout snack because they’re high in natural sugars. They are also easy to digest, so shouldn’t feel heavy in your stomach before a swim. After a swim session, protein bars, fruit and yogurt are all good options. Swimming in the morning stokes your metabolism for the rest of the day, so keep a selection of healthy snacks with you to avoid energy lows.
What foods should swimmers avoid?
Avoid fatty foods before you dive in – they are harder for your stomach to digest and can lead to indigestion, discomfort and bloating during your swim.
Should I drink during my swim?
Yes. Any form of exercise will make you sweat and that includes swimming, although because you’re in cool water you don’t sweat as much as on land. Dehydration can affect your energy levels and your performance, so take a water bottle with you to the poolside and have regular sips during your session and drink plenty of water before, during and after your swim.
Post swim refuel: Nut butter, banana, honey and chia seeds on toast*
This healthy, after-swim snack tastes fabulous and has some great benefits for your body too.
Wholegrain toast with nut butter, banana slices, sweet honey and chia seeds is a quick and easy combo that will fill you up after your swim. The nut butter and chia seeds are rich in protein to support muscle repair, the wholegrain bread and banana provide slow-release carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores and honey offers a quick-hit of natural sugars, for an instant energy boost.
- 1 slice of wholegrain bread
- 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter (try peanut or cashew but make sure it’s sugar free)
- ½ banana
- ½ tablespoon of honey
- A sprinkle of chia (alternatively try pumpkin or sunflower seeds)
*Allergy information: please note that this recipe contains nuts.
Disclaimer - Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. The exercise suggestions are not intended to substitute for proper medical advice.