As they say- the early bird catches the worm, so whether you’re a hardworking early riser looking to spice up their training routine by going for a morning swim or a miserable and tired competitive swimmer heading to your fifth 5 am practice for the week, you probably want to stick around, because in this article we’ll be covering exactly what to eat before swimming in the morning for the best results in the pool.
Now now, I know very few of us actually have the appetite to eat an entire swim workouts worth of calories right when we wake up, even I as a hardcore and always-hungry competitive swimmer wouldn’t be able to do it, plus it probably isn’t the best idea in the first place anyway.
However, that doesn’t mean that you skip eating before going for your early morning swim, in fact quite the opposite. Let’s have a look at a few of the reasons why you should be eating before swimming in the morning before we move on to what exactly you should be eating.
Quick Answer: If you have less than an hour before swimming in the morning, consider eating food that is mainly carbohydrates and lower in fat and fiber. Meals should be light and nutritious. Good examples include foods like fruit, juice, granola bars, low-fiber cereal, and a slice of toast with jam.
Why you should eat before swimming in the morning.
More endurance and improved performance: When you swim in the morning your body is usually in a fasted state, meaning that there may not be too much glycogen available for muscles to use in order to perform optimally. This causes your body to search for other energy sources, such as fat- this isn’t exactly ideal though since you’ll also be burning valuable muscle mass.
When you go swimming after you’ve topped up your fuel reserves (by eating) it’ll help you to work out at a higher intensity with more stamina since your glycogen and carbohydrate stores will have nutrients.
Performing at your best in every workout is important since it’ll help you to get the most out of your training over time.
See, you might not make a lot more progress in that 1 particular workout, but if you are continually making a little more progress than you would overwise over the course of a few months, then it starts adding up to much more progress and faster rates of improvement in the water.
Avoid feeling sick: If you work out on an empty stomach you are more than likely to experience symptoms of low blood sugar. These include light-headedness, blurry vision, fatigue and even nausea- all things which are not ideal for working out.
Luckily, you can easily avoid this by eating something before swimming in the morning. We’ll get into what exactly you should be eating in just a second.
Better focus: believe it or not, but food and eating can actually affect your focus in the pool and can determine whether you have a good first workout of the day or not. Firstly, if you’re lacking essential nutrients it can hurt your ability to concentrate at the task at hand- whether it be a tough main set or some simple drills aimed at improving your swimming technique.
Then on the other hand, eating too much or too little can also affect your focus while swimming. If you eat too much you may feel tired, and if you eat too little it can lead to distracting hunger pangs or even worse- those nasty low blood sugar symptoms mentioned above.
So with that said, let’s have a loot at what and how you should be eating before swimming in the morning.
What to eat before swimming in the morning: keep it light and simple.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty like the types of foods, we should probably actually first cover how you should be eating before swimming in the morning.
For the best results you’re going to want to keep things on the lighter side and avoid eating too much food. You see, your body needs time to digest the food that you’re eating and if you’re eating a lot it simply won’t be able to do that and you’ll feel heavy and tired in the water.
This means keeping the volume of the food lower, and also making sure that you aren’t eating high-fiber or fatty foods. High fiber foods are good and healthy, but they take a while to digest and can make you feel quite full, which isn’t ideal for a morning swim.
And yes, yes, I know I said that if you eat too little you may experience nausea, but on the other hand if you eat too much- and there’s a tough set involved- you may also experience nausea and feel a bit sick.
So ideally, you’re going to want to go with something light and simple that provides you with all of the nutrients that you need for good and optimal performance in the pool- and that brings us to our next point.
What to eat before swimming in the morning- keep it nutritious.
So as I just mentioned- you should preferably keep your meals light and simple, this will ensure that food easily gets digested and used during your swimming workouts, it’ll also help you to avoid feeling heavy or bloated in the water.
What you should keep in mind here, however, is that you want to maximize what you’re eating and not just eat a bunch of low-quality nonsense foods that don’t provide you with much useful nutrients.
Ideally you’d want to go with foods that provide lots of nutrients in low quantities, are easy and quick to digest, and are also healthy to ensure that you’re fueling performance in the pool while swimming.
The main nutrient we’re after is going to be carbohydrates, this is the prefered source of energy utilized by our bodies. As mentioned, we are also preferably going to want to keep fat and fiber to a minimum to ensure fast and easy digestion.
So with that said, why don’t we have a look at a couple of examples of some of these foods. I’ll also give you a couple of easy meal options and we’ll discuss supplementation which I also find to be quite useful.
What to eat before swimming in the morning- Mead Ideas.
Now that you have a better understanding of how and which types of foods you should be eating before swimming in the morning, let’s actually have a look at a couple of examples and meal ideas, we’ll also discuss supplements if that’s something you’d like to try out.
The key is to pick foods that are high in carbohydrates, but still easy and quick to digest. For example, oatmeal has a lot of good carbohydrates, but it takes long to digest. On the other hand, a quick carbohydrate shake also has a lot of good carbohydrates but is much easier to digest and enter your blood stream.
Good solid meals to eat before swimming in the morning-
- Mixed dried fruits
- Small to medium-sized bowl of fruited yogurt or plain yogurt with added fruit.
- Granola bar
- Fruit salad (apple, strawberries, orange, pineapple and so on)
- Toasted waffle or whole-wheat toast with jam
- Low fiber cereal with low-fat milk
Good liquid meals to eat before swimming in the morning-
- Fruit smoothie (frozen fruit, yogurt, and 100% fruit juice)
- Dairy-based smoothie (low-fat milk, banana, strawberries, some yogurt, and ice)
- Energy gel supplementation
- Carbohydrate drink supplement (if you want to learn a little more about supplements and their benefits read my article about them here, I definitely think you’ll find them useful before an early morning swim, so give it a read)
Experimentation and resilience- find what works best for you.
Many swimmers, including myself, simply skip eating before swimming in the morning from time to time, because we either don’t have the appetite when we wake up or just don’t have the time to prepare a full blown breakfast and still have enough time for it to digest properly.
That said, eating before swimming in the morning can be really beneficial for getting a better workout and we should all aim to make it a regular habit instead of ruling it out or neglecting it for whatever reason.
That’s why I recommend you experiment with different types of foods for a couple of weeks. If you feel like it didn’t work the first time, don’t give up, try it a few more times. This time with another type of food, maybe play around with solid and liquid foods, supplementation or not.
Remember, eating before swimming in the morning requires rehearsal, so if you did it once and weren’t all that successful, I recommend trying a few more times before giving up and missing out on all the benefits of being fueled up.
Proper nutrition is a crucial part of becoming a better and faster swimmer and reaching your goals in the pool. If you don’t eat properly your body won’t be able to perform or recover properly and you’ll inevitably be missing out on valuable progress that could’ve made you a better swimmer.
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