It is not always easy to know what to eat before a swim session, or lifeguard classes and how much. Find out what are the main principles to follow to avoid cravings, loss of energy but also the unpleasant sensations of heaviness and bloating when you swim. Then it’s up to you to test what suits you best because even if an experienced swimmer is worth two, it is through experience that you learn.
Swimmer’s diet: the main principles
Before going swimming in a pool or at sea, it is important to respect certain principles to avoid feelings of bloating and gastric reflux, but also to have sufficient energy. Obviously, it’s best to eat foods that are easy to digest. Forget products that are too high in fat and carbonated drinks. Also, avoid soups and liquids in too much quantity because while swimming, your stomach is also in movement and risks rejecting everything. Your diet also depends on the intensity of the swimming session. If you are swimming in a competition, choose foods that gradually release energy such as slow carbohydrates. In any case, wait at least an hour before entering the water to avoid any unpleasant feeling of heaviness.
Eat according to the time of day
Depending on the time of day you go swimming, you will need to adopt different eating habits.
If you swim very early in the morning: try not to drink too much so as not to fill your stomach with liquid and avoid orange juice which causes gastric reflux. Do not overload your belly too much and favor proteins and slow sugars by swallowing a slice of bread with a little white ham for example. It is also possible to swim on an empty stomach. In this case, gastric comfort is optimal but you will not have sufficient energy if you want to perform an intense workout.
If you swim at the end of the morning or at noon: if the session takes place less than 4 hours after breakfast, it is not necessarily necessary to eat provided you have had a full breakfast. It is enough to drink regularly throughout the morning to hydrate yourself well. Avoid tea or coffee, which have diuretic properties and do not promote good hydration. If the session takes place more than 4 hours after breakfast, consider having a snack 2 hours before. The ideal is to eat a handful of dried fruits, fresh fruit, or an energy bar.
If you swim in the late afternoon or in the evening: the rules to follow are the same as for midday.
If it is not possible for you to eat 2 hours before, eat very little just before the session. An energy bar for example. Fast sugars are to be ingested just before entering the water so that they release energy when you swim.
Swimming: what diet to adopt?
Whether you are a professional swimmer or an occasional athlete, one of the keys to successful training is a balanced diet. Although calorie expenditure varies from swimmer to swimmer, swimming requires specific energy needs with rules to follow.
During a workout how many calories do you burn?
On the one hand, there is the common man and on the other, the Olympic champion Michael Phelps. When a sedentary man has a daily caloric requirement of 2100 kcal (1800 for a woman), the American eats 12,000 kcal per day.
For average swimmers, the calorie expenditure would be between 400kcal per hour of training, 600 to 700 kcal / h for more sustained sessions. One hour of world champion training can eat up to 1000 kcal.
What to eat and when?
We cannot repeat it enough but it is essential not to skip any meal! Your body needs energy which it will find mainly in carbohydrates in the form of stores located inside the muscles (glycogen) or carbohydrates circulating in the blood (glucose).
In practice, plan a meal rich in carbohydrates (pasta, rice, etc.) the day before a workout to increase your glycogen stock. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during this meal.
In the morning, plan a rich and varied breakfast that can cover at least 25% of the daily energy intake. It must include a drink (tea, coffee, or water), a dairy product, a portion of fruit (fresh fruit, compote, fresh fruit salad, or orange juice), and a complex sugar intake (cereals, wholemeal bread). Gourmets can consume butter, jam, or honey but in moderation.
Two or three hours before training, indulge in a snack rich in fat and fast sugars. So you can fall for a piece of cake, we will not blame you.
It is important not to skip the meal after exercise. Opt for a menu rich in protein to promote muscle mass gain.
Most important: hydration
Just because you’re in the water doesn’t mean you don’t sweat! A swimmer also loses a lot of water during his workouts. It is, therefore, necessary to have a bottle of water nearby and to hydrate regularly.
Dehydration can lead to an increased risk of injury and more difficult recovery.