At EVO’s Queen Creek swim school, we often overhear the same words of warning from protective parents and caretakers: “You just ate! Wait a few minutes before you get in the pool.” But is their sage advice accurate after all? Let’s see if they’re sharing facts or fiction.
There are two common concerns about eating before swimming:
1. You won’t be able to swim as strongly.
Blood flows to your digestive tract after eating, so many people think this takes away blood flow to your arms and legs, and inhibits your ability to swim. According to Mark Messick, MD, a family doctor with Duke Primary Care, “The body does supply extra blood to aid in digestion, but not enough blood to keep your arm and leg muscles from properly functioning.”
2. You’ll get a stomach cramp.
This one could be true, but the stomach aches and cramps are likely due to strenuous activity, not the fact that you’re swimming after eating. As long as you listen to your body and don’t push yourself too far, this shouldn’t be an issue.
So, while there is a relationship between eating and exercise, having a snack or meal before jumping in the pool is perfectly safe, and it may even help you. For the best results, doctors recommend eating a healthy snack that has both carbohydrates and protein 2-3 hours before swimming. If you swim first thing in the morning, be sure to have a small snack — even if it’s not a full breakfast — to fuel your workout and burn as many calories as possible. Also remember to drink water before and after swimming to stay hydrated.
For now, we can consider this myth (mostly) busted. For more information about water safety or lessons at our Queen Creek swim school, call EVO at 480-539-2660.