Tips & Advice

The best foods to eat before and after a swim

Which energy-rich foods will help you swim for longer, and which are best avoided? We reveal how to eat smart, before and after your swimming session.

Experts agree that the right food can be vital in improving energy levels and performance. Set yourself up for peak performance with our tips on what to eat before and after your swim training.

Competing or for fitness?

What you should eat before and after a swim depends on whether you’re swimming competitively or for general fitness. Competitive swimmers need to eat foods that release their energy progressively in order to help them keep going. If you’re swimming for fitness, however, you may want to opt for an easily digestible low-fat pre-swim meal.

Foods to eat before a swim
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are a great source of energy. By eating a small amount of carbs before you hit the pool, you’ll benefit from a slow release of energy while you swim, helping you to keep going for longer. Just ensure you leave plenty of time to eat (up to an hour, ideally) before you jump in the pool, to avoid feeling bloated.

Try these great pre-swim options:

  • Pasta and wholemeal rice, in small quantities, will ensure you get a great range of carbohydrates, allowing you to concentrate on your swim. Eat alongside fruit, such as bananas, which are a great source of potassium.
  • Always have a drink to hand so you can stay hydrated, and don’t forget to take on fluids, even during your swimming session.

Foods to avoid before your swim:

  • Fatty foods are harder for your stomach to digest and, as a result, can lead to indigestion and discomfort during your swim.

Foods to eat after a swim
Aim to replenish lost nutrients and refuel your body in the first 20-30 minutes after your swim – this is especially important if you’re a long distance swimmer as your body needs help to recover. If you’re swimming in the morning, keep a selection of healthy snacks with you to munch on throughout the day in order to prevent energy dips.

Great food options for after your swim
Snacks: Recovery drinks help replenish a mix of carbohydrates, meanwhile protein bars and fruit are handy snacks to have to hand before a substantial meal.

Main meals: Incorporating protein into your meal will help muscle repair and replenishment – think fish, lean chicken, turkey and beef, eggs and low-fat cheese. Other healthy – and tasty – options for your main meal include wholegrain pasta, fresh fruit and low-fat yoghurt.

For more training tips and swim fitness advice, including step-by-step instructional videos and tips from our elite swimming coaches, visit our News, Tips and Techniques section.

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