It’s a cliché to say that “food is fuel,” so we won’t. But, well, making the right decisions about what you eat has major effects on your amount of energy and how long it holds out. Swimmers and other aquatic athletes regularly focus on many areas of improvement to push their performance to the next level and beyond, and making smart food choices is a key one.
Here are some essential eating tips for swimmers to boost energy and stamina to reach faster times, greater distances, and that inimitable satisfaction of achieving a personal best!
How to Eat For More Energy Before a Swim
- Base your diet on whole foods as much as possible, and eat as few processed foods as you can.
- Rely on whole grains (e.g., whole wheat, oats, brown rice, corn, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, etc.) for your carbohydrate boost and a healthy, sustained energy boost.
- Stay away from refined grains and added sugar, as they give you a short-lived spike in energy and you blood glucose levels, but both come quickly crashing down.
- Make sure you’re getting plenty of healthy unsaturated fats in your diet from seafood, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils; it’s important for energy, as well as your heart, brain, skin, and more.
- Eat a healthy small meal or large snack with a whole grain, lean protein, and fruit or veggie one to two hours before your swim so there’s time to gain energy from the food and you’re not weighed down by a totally fresh load in your stomach.
- Take a look at these healthy snack ideas to fuel up before a swim.
- If you rely on power bars, stick to those made with whole grains, nuts, and/or seeds for complex carbs, and that have protein; stay away from the ones with lots of added sugar.
- Juice with fruit and vegetables (make it a mix that includes veggies, or it’s too much sugar from all that fruit) before you hit the water for an energy boost that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Avoid caffeine, energy drinks, and high-sugar sports drinks before a swim, as these too cause a sharp spike and crash in your blood sugar levels and your energy levels; a caffeine or sugar crash leaves most people feeling particularly depleted.
- Have little or no alcohol the night before a swim (and during the day leading up to it), as it only makes you more sluggish.
- In general, eating smaller, more frequent meals and substantial nutritious snacks throughout the day is more energizing than having two or three larger meals and a snack or two per day, many hours apart.