Why Good Pre-Swim Nutrition is Essential to Great Swimming
Get Our Top 3 Tips for How to Eat Healthy Before You Swim!
While using a pool mirror can help your swimming go from good to great, there’s another key aspect to your success as an athlete: good nutrition. It’s true, you really are what you eat!
If you keep up with Olympic swimmers, this should come as no surprise; in 2008, Michael Phelps famously declared he had a “12,000 calorie-a-day diet.”
Maybe you’re not a Michael Phelps, but it’s definitely true that swimmers have massive appetites.
At SwimMirror, eating healthy is a good habit we can definitely get behind. We’ve got a few tips to help improve your nutrition so that you can start swimming better and faster than ever before. Ready, set… eat!
1) Don’t Skip Breakfast, Swimmers!
We know, we know: it’s tempting as a swimmer to hold off on eating until after your early morning practice or a competition.
It’s true that if you eat too much or too soon before swimming, you can risk an upset stomach, or worse. It’s also true, though, that swimming on a completely empty stomach can leave you fatigued and drained of energy.
Nancy Clark, M.S, R.D., the author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, says that pre-exercise “fuel” has several important functions:
- Preventing low blood sugar
- “Fueling” your muscles
- Filling your stomach
- Relaxing your body
Try to eat 3-4 hours before you hop in the pool. If you can’t make the time for a whole meal, remember that a light breakfast (like toast or fruit) can be a quick and easy way to keep fatigue at bay!
2) Eat the Right Food Before Swimming
Not all snacks are good pre-swim snacks, though. Foods high in fat are harder to digest, which is why the fitness website LiveStrong recommends easily digestible, low fat snacks, such as fruit—which has the added bonus of helping you hydrate!
Bananas, strawberries, oranges, apples and grapes are options that are low in calories and won’t fill you with refined sugars.
Other great snack choices include:
- Bagel with peanut butter
- Energy gels
- Dry cereal with yogurt
- Whole grain waffle with sliced fruit
- Cottage cheese
- Fruit smoothies
- Porridge with fruit
Remember: You know your body best. If something listed above upsets your stomach, you should avoid it, even if your favorite Olympian swimmer eats it every day! Which ties into our next point…
3) Swim Clear of Hard-to-Digest Foods!
Be sure you avoid pre-race foods and drinks that will be hard on your body. SwimSwam suggests you avoid foods with:
- Processed sugar
- “Energy” drinks
- High fat or high fiber foods
- New foods (Don’t take any risks!)
The last thing you want is to be bogged down in the water, after all!
Another tip is to avoid any upsetting foods in the 48 hours before a big race. It can make a real difference in your performance. But before you go…
Wait! Don’t Forget Your Recovery Strategies!
Pre-swim nutrition is important, but you don’t forget about the recovery that comes after.
Did you know that if you eat a meal within 30 minutes after working out, your body can start its recovery process even faster? This can make you way better prepared for your next workout!
Carbohydrates are the best for “fueling” your muscles. This is because they help you recover your muscle glycogen levels. So, make sure you make room in your diet for rice, vegetables, fruit and other complex carbohydrates (and don’t neglect your protein, either!).
Want to take your swim performance to the next level?
While you’re taking care of yourself out of the water, don’t forget that using an underwater mirror can give you an extra boost in your swim performance! Check out SwimMirror, the essential swim training tool that gives you instant feedback on your swim strokes in real-time.