What to Eat Before And After A Swim

Summer is around the corner and that means many of us non-Olympians are starting to dust off our swimsuits and swim caps. Swimming is simply one of the best workouts around – it is a relatively low impact, full-body, and burns between 413 to 931 calories during a one-hour swim depending on metabolic rates, weight, and the swimmer’s speed. In a day, World Sports Food Fight reports Olympic swimmers torch between 3000 to 10,000 calories. Even footballers with their 90-minute matches have nothing on swimmers as they only burn 3800 calories in a day. The high amount of calories burnt during swimming explains the great emphasis placed on pre and post workout nutrition for swimmers. Knowing exactly what to eat before and after a swim, and when exactly to eat it is a major key. Incorporating juices into your pre and post swim nutrition is even more beneficial.

Why juices should be part of your pre and post-swimming nutrition

While people swim for different reasons, one thing is for certain; all swimmers need strength, stamina, and endurance. The purpose of a pre-workout nutrition is to fuel your body for the session ahead, without making you too full that you start experiencing stomach issues. This is where juices come in handy. They provide all the nutrients needed by the body without putting pressure on your digestive system, which allows for peak performance. They also are great detoxifiers. While having a green swimming pool is something health enthusiasts would kill for, most chemicals used in the swimming pool do not have eco-friendly alternatives. This means your skin absorbs chemicals and toxins while in the pool. Juices are great for flushing out these toxins. Lastly, most swimmers wrongly assume that just because they are in the water, they don’t need to hydrate. Even swimmers sweat! Juices contain water that helps keep them hydrated which in turn will eliminate the fatigue and weakness brought about by dehydration.

The ideal pre-swim nutrition

When you swim or do any type of workout, glycogen stored in your muscles and liver become depleted. This glycogen is responsible for giving you energy. Muscles are also torn so they can regrow. That said, your pre-swim nutrition should incorporate foods or drinks that allow muscle repair and provide the much-needed energy.

Main meals and snacks

200 to 300 calories of complex carbohydrates should be first on the list.  These serve the purpose of topping up glycogen in your body so you can swim for longer periods of time. They include a cup of brown rice, 2 slices of whole wheat bread, oats or cereals. Complex carbs have a high GI, which means they are slowly digested and release energy to the body slowly but over a long period of time. They should be eaten 2 to 4 hours before swimming and are great for endurance training. Snacks should be taken 30 minutes to 2 hours before a swim. These are great for sprint training or when you need energy fast. Great examples include granola bars, tuna sandwiches, peanut butter, coriander omelet, jellies, sweets and energy drinks.

Fruits and juices

Snacking on fruits high in water content such as strawberries, oranges, and grapes will keep you satiated. Alternatively, you can blend them. Banana smoothies contain potassium which is instrumental in the glucose-glycogen conversion process. Carrot juice mixed with garlic and ginseng powder boosts energy levels and at the same time increases oxygen concentration in the body. A cup of apple juice will also do the trick.


The ideal post-swim nutrition

Dieticians recommend taking a snack or a meal 30 minutes after swimming.These foods are meant to aid torn muscles in regrowth and repair also ensure the body has enough glycogen for normal functioning. Most people should aim to consume about 20g of proteins according to Arena Water Instinct. Carbs consumed should have moderate or high GI for easy absorption. Superfoods such as salmon, tuna, (for the pescatarians) chicken (for the omnivores) and quinoa, beans, lentils, nuts are great for post-swim proteins. Some examples: a protein-packed smoothie from Nekter (of course) a sandwich with banana slices and peanut butter, almond butter, baked sweet potatoes, Acai berries, or a serving of almonds. When it comes to drinks, juices made from citrus fruits, celery, swiss chard, blueberry, beetroot, ginger, watermelon, coconut, cherries, and cucumbers have proven to be beneficial. Non-vegans also love Greek yogurt and chocolate milk.

Eating before and after a swim might seem counter-intuitive especially for those swimming to lose weight, but rest assured it is not. Quite on the contrary, it will help you attain cardio fitness faster and perform better if you are a competitive swimmer. You should, however, avoid eating immediately before a swim so as to avoid discomfort. Do not try a new food before a swim either.

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