Swimming is an incredibly good workout for your body, using many muscles and being one of the best cardiovascular exercises you can do. In order to get the most out of it, your body needs to have enough “fuel” beforehand. Here we present some information on the best snacks to eat before and after swimming, as well as why your parents were right about not eating right before going for a swim.
Whenever you eat, your body focuses its attention on the digestive system, making sure that food can be digested properly and that there is adequate bloody supply to deal with the process. Likewise, when you exercise, your body ensures that there is enough blood supply to your muscles so that they can work properly, and other functions, such as digestion, will no longer be the main focus of the bloody supply. Therefore, if you go for a swim too soon after eating, you can end up with not enough blood for either digestion or your muscles, resulting in cramps, indigestion and reflux. So yes, your parents were right.
It’s a good idea to eat at least one hour before swimming, to give your body some time to digest the food and also for the blood supply to make the most of the energy derived from the food. The type of food you eat should be something that releases energy slowly, rather than quickly. Some examples include:
- wholegrains (bread and pasta);
- muesli bars;
- nuts (unsalted).
If having these foods by themselves doesn’t sound so exciting, you can always make a smoothie or have some yoghurt sprinkled with fruit, nuts and oats.
After a swim – particularly a long and vigorous one – your body will have burnt through a lot of energy, and eating the right foods afterwards will help it recover. Foods with a high level of protein are a perfect choice for after-swimming snacks, such as:
- lean chicken or turkey;
- oily fish (salmon, sardines, trout etc.);
- peanut butter;
- brown rice;
- low-fat milk or cheese.
As well as maintaining sufficient levels of energy, always remember to stay properly hydrated; even though you’ll be immersed in water, you can still end up dehydrated if you push yourself too much and haven’t consumed enough water.