What Should You Eat Before, During, and After Swimming?


Swimming is a great way to stay in shape and feel healthier. You get the most benefits when you integrate swimming into your daily routine. With a healthy meal, it is possible to have energy stores. Yet, do you know what to eat before or after, or perhaps during a swimming session?

Before swimming, eat a carbohydrate meal and eggs and avoid fatty foods. Such a meal will give you more energy. Having a sports drink during the training session can boost your performance even further. After swimming, take some protein bars and fresh fruits and eat vegetables.

Morning Snacks

Do you have training sessions pretty early in the morning? Then, you mustn’t gobble up a large meal; it might be tolerable if running or cycling but not in swimming. But before a swimming session, a heavy meal is a big no because your body stays horizontal in the pool triggering gastric reflux. 

However, you must also strengthen your body for the swim meet. You must eat the right foods at the right times to improve your cardio fitness speedily and get max performance in the pool. That’s why fueling is a must before training sessions. However, it’s not possible with an empty stomach. So what are the best foods you can take as first snacks?

Well, the main ingredient that can invigorate you is carbohydrates. They get stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen. The catch is that your body can store a small number of carbohydrates, so you need to consume them at first. 


Our digestive system can’t digest foods while swimming; it is emphasized to eat before swimming sessions and afterward. If you have more swimming plans ahead, you will be able to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

If you plan to go into the pool straight out of bed, you can try out the following higher GI carbohydrate energy-boosting light snack. They’ll back you up with superior nutrition.

  • Dates and raisins
  • Energy bar
  • 500ml isotonic sports drink (commercially available)
  • 1.5 energy carbohydrate gels
  • One large banana
  • A small number of jellied sweets

What You Should Eat Before Swimming

The first race day of swimming is tantalizing. You have to make yourself prepared for optimal performance. That’s why you need to eat high carbohydrates before two to four hours of swimming. Many swimmers feel stomach discomfort during the swim, which you can avoid by taking low-fat and fiber foods. 

Another important thing you should do is drink fluids, mainly regular sips of water in the first race. Never eat new foods on the contest day because your body is used to the pre-competition foods you’ve been taking from the beginning.

Food Choices Before a Swimming Session:

  • English muffin with cheese 
  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereal 
  • Fruit salad 
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Porridge with cinnamon and banana
  • Sandwich with salad

It’s imperative for you to check whether you can digest solid foods or not prior to swimming. If you don’t feel well, you can eat a small snack or replace a solid with a liquid. And the best source of liquid protein is a fruit smoothie.

When You Should Eat Before Swimming

Eating habits vary from person to person. Everyone is unique, has different tastes in eating, and has a different digestive system. There’s a conventional saying which you may have heard that if you start swimming just after eating, it is more likely to cause cramps and sickness. 

There’s no solid evidence regarding cramps, yet we know that spunky exercise causes the diversion of blood flow to the skin, the muscles of your arms and legs instead of the digestive area. Besides, half-digested foods will give you nausea as well. As a swimmer, you shouldn’t swim on a full belly. Make sure you eat at least an hour before your exercise. 

However, some swimmers feel cramps; you can be assured that it’s because of overexertion. So, take your time after eating your foods, let them digest, and don’t go hard on your body.

YouTube video
Video Creator: Mayo Clinic

What Foods to Avoid Before Swimming

You have to take food with a substantial amount of carbohydrates to provide you with enough fuel. Now it’s essential to keep in your mind that you must gulp down foods that make you feel comfortable. Otherwise, if you try any new that you’re not used to, you might have gastrointestinal symptoms and other issues.


You must be aware of avoiding the foods below before swimming:

  • Excess fiber 
  • Excess fatty foods 
  • Unusually spicy foods 
  • Excess caffeine intakes
  • Alcohol

You need to focus on taking high GI snacks, low in fiber, smaller, and most importantly, easy for your body to digest. That way, you’ll get proper nutrition and be able to swim longer, resulting in swimming fast performance.

What You Should Eat During Swim Workout

Professionals, even elite-level swimmers, often overlook the importance of eating between races. You have to learn to use the opportunities to eat and drink in mids of events for the right fuel and added protein. 

Before the contest, create an eating plan that matches your body composition goals, and you can do this practice during your training session. You also need to include the foods that your body is familiar with. Make sure that this plan remains left unchanged during your training and even before a major competition. 

You can’t expect that the training venues will have ample snacks, food, and fluid options for you. All the swimmers must reach the platform with sufficient prepared foods and fluids, and you thus will be able to top up yourself with the right fuel to exceed the competition.


If you’re taking part in swimming that has sixty minutes between races, opt for light and easily digestible foods.

Foods to Eat When the Gap Is Sixty Minutes or Less:

  • Sports drink
  • Yogurt pouches
  • Flavored milk tetra packs
  • Juice
  • Banana chips
  • Small pieces of banans and grapes

If the gap between races is more than an hour, a more loaded meal is essential. That way, you’ll have enough fuel for swimming and thus tackle the swimming hunger.

Foods to Eat When the Gap Is More Than an Hour:

  • Pasta or noodle-based dishes
  • Sandwiches 
  • Sushi rolls
  • Rice paper rolls

What You Should Eat After Swimming

After your training sessions, you must eat the right food to refuel your body. Besides, though you’re in the water, swimming causes sweat losses. So, you have to gobble up foods and fluids to recover your muscles.


If you can get a healthy meal right after your swim workout, try to take it within an hour. As mentioned earlier, protein will repair your muscles, whereas carbohydrates will restore the glycogen levels in your body for overall nutrition.

We understand how effective are instant recovery foods for swimmers who are always on the move. You can take them after twenty to thirty minutes of the swimming sessions. In addition, you should aim for a good meal after a swim to get yourself lean proteins.

Some of the best foods that you can eat after training are:

  • Lean chicken
  • Turkey
  • Oily fish
  • Brown rice
  • Cheese 
  • Low-fat milk

But if you want to restore nutrition fully, you better couple up those lean proteins with fresh fruits and vegetables. Because they are rich in minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins, helping you recover your energy.

Stay Hydrated

Just because you’re in a pool for a swim doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t sweat. Instead, in an indoor pool, the humidity is high, which causes more fluid losses. It’s not possible to determine how much you should drink, as it depends on individual fluid losses. But you should drink plenty of fluids to replace sweat losses.


It is highly emphasized to bring a water bottle and drink fluids during training to stay hydrated. And try to keep the bottle at a place where you can get access quickly in the middle of training sessions. 

For most training sessions, water is sufficient to meet hydration needs. However, suppose you’re in a long swimming competition or have very long training sessions. In that case, sports drinks can be helpful as they provide carbohydrates for fuel and electrolytes and fluid for hydration goals.

Though water is sufficient to keep you hydrated, carbohydrate-rich liquids like sports drinks can often boost your performance during extended training. The swimmers appreciate them for delivering electrolytes, fuel, and fluids essential for hydration.

YouTube video
Video Creator: MySwimPro