The Best Food for Swimming Advice

What should you eat before and after a swim? What should you avoid? This blog will tell you all you need to know about the best food for swimming. 

Speedo have produced this blog to include the foods and snacks that let you swim for longer and faster, as well as help if you’re swimming to lose weight.

If you’re still wondering about the health benefits of swimming, check out this blog!

The Best Food For Swimming Tips

What to eat before and after swimming

Which energy-rich foods will help you swim for longer, and which are best avoided? Here’s how to eat smart, before and after swimming.

  • Pre-swim foods
  • Post-swim foods
  • Healthy snacks for swimmers
  • Swimming for weight loss
  • Foods swimmers should avoid
  • Hydration in the pool

If you’re thinking of heading out sea swimming, then maybe this blog covering All Things Sea Swimming might help?

What should I eat before a swim?

Foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal pasta, sweet potatoes and brown rice, are a great source of energy for swimmers.

A diet that contains these slow release carbs will keep you energised and help you swim for longer but they can take time to digest.

If you need an energy boost just before a swim go for a mix of lean protein and carbs – smoothies are a great way to nourish your body with all the nutrients you need, without putting pressure on your digestive system.

Just ensure you leave plenty of time (up to an hour, ideally) before you jump in the pool to avoid feeling bloated.

And if you’re swimming to lose weight, choosing a low-fat, lower-calorie pre-swim snack, or a smaller portion instead could help you ditch the pounds quicker.

What and when to eat after swimming?

Eating after exercise is important for recovery, even if you’re aiming to lose weight.

Aim to refuel your body within 20-30 minutes of swimming with a mixture of muscle-repairing protein and glycogen-restoring carbohydrates.

For a light meal, try almond butter on oat cakes, or nut butter, banana, honey and chia seeds on toast (see below for the recipe).

A good post-swim main meal might be a baked sweet potato with some lean protein like chicken, or fish.

Healthy snacks for swimmers

Dates are a great energy boosting, pre-workout snack because they’re high in natural sugars.

They are also easy to digest, so shouldn’t feel heavy in your stomach before a swim.

After a swim session, protein bars, fruit and yogurt are all good options. Swimming in the morning stokes your metabolism for the rest of the day, so keep a selection of healthy snacks with you to avoid energy lows.

What foods should swimmers avoid?

Avoid fatty foods before you dive in – they are harder for your stomach to digest and can lead to indigestion, discomfort and bloating during your swim.

Should I drink during my swim?


Any form of exercise will make you sweat and that includes swimming, although because you’re in cool water you don’t sweat as much as on land.

Dehydration can affect your energy levels and your performance, so take a water bottle with you to the poolside and have regular sips during your session and drink plenty of water before, during and after your swim.

Post swim refuel: Nut butter, banana, honey and chia seeds on toast*

This healthy, after-swim snack tastes fabulous and has some great benefits for your body too.

Wholegrain toast with nut butter, banana slices, sweet honey and chia seeds is a quick and easy combo that will fill you up after your swim.

The nut butter and chia seeds are rich in protein to support muscle repair, the wholegrain bread and banana provide slow-release carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores and honey offers a quick-hit of natural sugars, for an instant energy boost.


1 slice of wholegrain bread

1-2 tablespoons of nut butter (try peanut or cashew but make sure it’s sugar free)

½ banana

½ tablespoon of honey

A sprinkle of chia (alternatively try pumpkin or sunflower seeds)

*Allergy information: please note that this recipe contains nuts.

Disclaimer – Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. The exercise suggestions are not intended to substitute for proper medical advice.

best food for swimming


*Blog produced by Speedo®


I hope the clean eating and exercise plans that have gyms heaving every January are still being maintained as we head deeper into February. For regular ‘gymmers’, January is met with a sigh of “here we go again”. Sunglasses are optional as gyms nationwide are swarmed with eager new clients dressed head to toe in spanking new gear, with colours ranging from black to neon and every print & pattern in between. Then February arrives and the peak times suddenly begin to resemble less and less like a sports themed nightclub plugging with protein shakers instead of alcohol! By the time the Spring rolls around normality usually ensues.

Unfortunately, for many, the fervour they tackle January with is often diminished by the time they hit Spring.  We’ve all heard the stories.  “I was up at six am four mornings this week at the gym, then I went out running every evening” and their new diet has rendered the need to chew redundant – as they juice everything possible in their Nutribullet! I certainly admire their enthusiasm… but it’s not smart. It simply isn’t sustainable, and exposure to such increases in exercise training in short periods of time increases the risk of injury. Strained muscle coupled with poor sleep and inadequate nutrition… “ah sure, the gym wasn’t for me anyway!”



I often get asked for advice on diet and exercise by people who consider themselves a regular Joe or Mary. Not necessarily aiming to be the next Katie Taylor, but they do want to get fit and look better. Now, more than ever, there is a massive push towards being fit, strong and healthy, and that is awesome! Like any trend (and I hope this move far outlasts being a trend), it brings out all sorts of opinions from ‘experts’, some more renowned than others.

The advice I would give anyone is simple. Make small changes to your lifestyle, the incremental changes are much better than wholesale changes trying to overhaul your lifestyle in a week! The World health Organisation (WHO) has guidelines that each adult should exercise at a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity every day. Moderate intensity equates to being out of breath to the point of being unable to complete a sentence; being sweaty and having your heart rate up. These are the bare minimum guidelines to be a healthy adult. Sounds simple? You would be surprised how many don’t hit that mark. If you can commit to half an hour everyday it is half the battle, and you can then gradually build up the intensity of whatever exercise regime you are following.

Another helpful tip is to do have a training buddy or group. If you regularly make a plan with someone to meet up for a class or running session, you are more likely to turn up on the days when you just don’t feel like it. I know myself, it was hard to train alone over Christmas when I was away from organised team sessions.


‘Diet’ is a word I have issues with. It suggests that it is for the short term, and again, not sustainable. Instead focus on your nutrition, what you ingest on a day to day basis.  In the simplest of terms, be aware of what nutrients your body needs, in what quantities, and the foods that have them. The three main components of a healthy daily food plan are carbohydrates, protein and fat. We need carbohydrates for energy. You should fuel with wholegrain carbohydrate before exercise.

Fat is necessary but the majority of dietary fats should come from unsaturated sources such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.  Protein is essential for muscle repair and recovery and should be eaten throughout the day.  Turkey, chicken, fish, meat, dairy and nuts are all good sources of protein.

Sports supplements play an important role in supporting the build and repair of muscles, and to aid recovery. Whey is the type of protein that is most quickly absorbed by the body, and should be consumed immediately after an exercise session. Products such as chocolate milk can offer a simple alternative to whey protein for the standard ‘weekend warrior’.


Personally, I would have considered myself to have a fairly good diet but the Irish nutritionist Nora Ní Fhlannagain wasn’t long deflating that bubble! My problem wasn’t necessarily the type of food I was eating, as much as the quantities. Apparently, my portion sizes equated to a recommended amount for a family of four!! We had a particularly arduous debate over my reliance on consuming four Weetabix (five on match days) every morning without fail. In my mind, it had done me no harm in getting me to where I was, and I didn’t quite resemble a baby elephant either. Slowly though she has changed my breakfast habits to match whatever level of activity or training I will be doing that day. But if Weetabix suffer losses at the end of this year they can talk to Nora…


Everything in moderation including moderation is a handy life motto. Be aware it isn’t easy to change a habit and we all have relapses. Cheat meals or little treats are necessary in order to keep the wheels on the bandwagon. Even with treats, it is important to be informed about what you are eating. Everywhere we go we see labels such as ‘organic’; ‘raw cacao’; ‘gluten free’ followed by brownie; caramel slice; cake; flapjack etc.  Don’t be fooled. If it is a dessert or treat, regardless of whatever far flung island its plant originated from, it quite likely still contains sugar and fat. If you want some chocolate, go to the local shop and buy your favourite bar (some bars with lower calories include Curly Wurlys and Purple Snacks). They will probably taste better and are cheaper too. Try not to eat a multipack though!

I don’t claim to be a nutritionist; these are just some of the basic guidelines that we should all adhere to, for a healthy body. Likewise with exercise, simplicity is key. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Make small, simple lifestyle changes and you are more likely to stick out January, February and beyond. Prove the regular ‘gymmers’ wrong, because they are all betting they won’t see you in a few weeks!

Louise Galvin is a member of the Irish Sevens squad, Munster Championship winner with the Kerry Ladies GAA squad and former national league winning basketball player with UL. Follow her on twitter @lougalvin4

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