Healthy Swimming Suggestion

Foods to eat after a swim

It is essential to have food after a swim to replenish lost nutrients and refuel the body. A long distance swimmer needs to have some food in the first 20 - 30 minutes after the swim as the body needs help to recover. Besides, it is important to have some healthy snacks ready to eat throughout the day, especially if one is a morning swimmer. Having foods rich in important nutrients prevent energy dips for the swimmer.

Due to leading a hectic lifestyle nowadays, people are more at risk of nutrient deficiencies. The most common deficiencies include lack of calcium, vitamin D, fibre and potassium.
Here are some foods that keep nutrient intake high and the risk for deficiency low:
  1. Nuts and Seeds
  2. Dark-green leafy vegetables
  3. Ready-to-eat cereals
  4. Low-fat milk and dairy products

Glycaemic Index of Carbohydrate

Consider the Glycaemic Index (GI) of carbohydrate - A food’s GI measures how quickly it is digested and broken down into glucose.
Lower GI foods, give a slower release of energy and should be the focus of main meals during training.
High GI foods are quickly broken down to glucose and thus are more readily available for energy.

Before a swim
In the 2 - 4 hours before a swimming session, swimmers are advised to avoid the following, as these are causes of gastrointestinal distress (diarrhoea, bowel upsets): Excess fibre, excess fatty foods, unusually spicy foods, excess caffeine intakes, and more obviously, alcohol.
In the hour before a swim, snacks should focus on smaller, easily absorbed, high GI snacks and contain limited amounts of fibre.
To provide sufficient energy, foods should be largely high in carbohydrate. Swimmers should eat foods they are used to as some food can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.

Who cannot eat before a swim

One should eat where possible before a morning swim, especially if it is a high-intensity session.
Many swimmers find eating before swimming difficult, due to experiencing symptoms of reflux or even nausea in the pool.

If one cannot tolerate any food before a swim, or prefer not to eat, try increasing the carbohydrate portion of the evening meal the night before, as this will be stored in the muscles (as glycogen) ready for the morning swim.