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What to Eat Before a Swim Meet


When you're getting ready for a swim meet, it can be easy to get caught up in the nerves and excitement of it all. But that does not mean that you should neglect your bodily needs as well. Just like how a car can't drive without fuel, you cannot swim with food either!

But what food should you eat before the swim? You might not put it at the top of your mind, but the food you eat before and leading up to the meet can make or break your performance. Fortunately, we're here to help! We'll go through what you should be eating and taking in to make sure that you're at your peak performance when it comes to race time.

Day Before

You may be surprised to learn that swimmers should not "Carbo-load" in the same way that many runners do before a big race. Having too many carbs the night or day before can cause some trouble for swimmers, such as cramps and a sluggish feeling and performance. Instead, you should focus more on having a good diet weeks and even months before the swim meet, as this will go a lot further in improving performance.

Your diet before a meet should consist primarily of complex carbohydrates, such as peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables. These types of foods should make up somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of your diet. When not eating complex carbs, you should eat lean protein, some unsaturday fats, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. 

Hours Before

On the day of the swim meet, it is important that you have a hearty breakfast. This is the food that's going to be giving you your steady energy throughout the day as well as part of your swim meet preparation. Eating carbohydrates such as a plain bagel, English muffin or anything similar will be the key to keeping that steady energy going. Along with your carbs, adding in protein is just as important. Add a side of scrambled eggs for instant protein the morning of a meet--both delicious and easy to digest. Lastly, finish your meal off with a side of fruit and sugar-free orange juice. Both of these are a great way to give yourself extra nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. This will be the best fuel for you to last until the afternoon.

Have an early morning meet? Make sure that you have a very light meal before you head off to the pool. Even if it's a slice of whole wheat toast and an orange, you're better off making sure that you have the fuel to compete.

Some food that you might want to stay away from is anything that's high in sugar and fat content. This will weigh your body down and you will feel sluggish throughout the time you are swimming in the pool. You should also avoid drinking any sugary drinks like soda. While you may get a quick spike in energy you won't gain any other benefits from the drink. Your body will spend too much energy trying to process the junk food that you're putting in your body when it should be focused on your athletic activity.

During Your Swim Meet

In between your race or between heats and finals, be sure to have something to munch on. Generally you want to keep things light, so an energy bar or a piece of fruit is the best option. Having your body digest heavy foods while swimming can be uncomfortable and cause physical troubles like cramps or a stomachache. When you're in the middle of a race, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your stomach.

Something else to keep in mind is what your own body can handle. Some people can drink sports drinks and eat more food than another person, but it might be the exact opposite of what you need. Test things out and see what your body tells you. Although we give you examples of foods that will help you perform your best, how much/how often a swimmer eats is personal and up to someone individually. Some swimmers prefer to race on a full stomach while others like to remain a perfect balance between full and hungry. If you're ever worried about what you should and shouldn't eat, then keep it simple with water and light snacks like pretzels or nuts.

Staying Hydrated

Water will be your best friend during a swim meet. Make sure you have plenty of water before, during and after your meet. This is vital to successful swimming. Other alternatives to water if you prefer more flavor are sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade. These drinks provide energy spikes if you need a quick kick before you hop in the water. Whatever drink you prefer, you'll want to have an ample amount of hydration before you begin your warm up for the session.

After the Meet

Even after your meet it's important to keep track of what you eat because your body will be in recovery mode. Always stick with carbohydrates like whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta. This will keep giving you steady energy even after you've left the pool. Another thing that's a great post-workout thing to down is to drink some chocolate milk. With double the protein and carbohydrates as regular milk, it'll help give you leaner muscle and shed pounds if you're on the way to a slimmer you.

Food is as much of a priority as a reliable suit is. When you have the right fuel then you'll have the right amount of energy to compete. As a last tip to keep in mind, eliminate any kind of fast food; that type of food will only bring your energy down and fill your body with empty calories. As long as you keep it healthy and make the right choices, you'll always have the confidence to perform your best, in and out of the water.

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Talyn
3 months ago.
Join the discussion...
Talyn
3 months ago.
Would it be smart to drink an energy drink
SwimOutlet
3 months ago.
You can drink Gatorade or Powerade if you prefer as long as you stay hydrated.
Someone
1 year ago.
Should you eat nothing before 500 free? Which foods would be healthy?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Someone!

Your diet before a meet should consist primarily of complex carbohydrates, such as peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables. These types of foods should make up somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of your diet. When not eating complex carbs, you should eat lean protein, some unsaturday fats, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.

While on the day of the swim meet, it is important that you have a hearty breakfast. This is the food that's going to be giving you your steady energy throughout the day as well as part of your swim meet preparation. Eating carbohydrates such as a plain bagel, English muffin or anything similar will be the key to keeping that steady energy going. Along with your carbs, adding in protein is just as important. Add a side of scrambled eggs for instant protein the morning of a meet--both delicious and easy to digest. Lastly, finish your meal off with a side of fruit and sugar-free orange juice. Both of these are a great way to give yourself extra nutrients like potassium and vitamin C. This will be the best fuel for you to last until the afternoon.
Bravo
1 year ago.
Isn't we swimm faster in cold water or warm water
Bri
1 year ago.
You swim faster in Cold Water ;)
Joel Ding
1 year ago.
Join the discussion...
Someone
1 year ago.
no
Joel Ding
1 year ago.
Is drinking bubble tea advisable before a swim?
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Joel!

Though it is a good source of protein, we do not recommend it before a swim as the tapoica pearls are not that easy to digest and will make your tummy heavy.
Rick
1 year ago.
I have a Male swimmer who just turned 14. It is very difficult to get him to eat a proper diet since his acquired tastes have changed so drastically. He won’t touch oatmeal or other types of porridge cereal anymore, and has given up all green vegetables except for raw spinach at times. He eats eggs, basically only fried eggs and hard-boiled. He loves his meat such as a broiled pork chop or a sautéed teriyaki styled chicken breast and occasional piece of beef. Trying to get his diet conditioned a few days before race day is difficult. He loves English muffins. How does eggs and English muffins with peanut butter work? He will eat apples and oranges. Looking for some input please. I’ve read so many articles and after a while you read so many you just get confused in your mind gets blurred.
Swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Rick, If he is not eating meals. Make sure he eats snacks. You can give him sandwiches e.g. chicken, tuna, cheese with salad, banana, peanut butter. He can eat small portions every two to four hours the day before the event, to keep sugar levels steady. Give him the fruits he likes, turn it to a smoothie. Make energy bars available for grabs like cereal bars, fruit bars, sesame snaps etc.
TMQ
1 year ago.
Breakfast sandwich! Toasted English muffin, handful of baby spinach and a fried egg makes an excellent breakfast. You can add other stuff like ham slices, cheese or even avocado slices to this for variety. Also, try swapping out butter with a good olive oil for frying those eggs.
Charles
1 year ago.
I have a TYR pro meet coming up and I really need to win It is a three day meet what should I do
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Charles!

Your diet before a meet should consist primarily of complex carbohydrates, such as peas, beans, whole grains and vegetables. These types of foods should make up somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of your diet. When not eating complex carbs, you should eat lean protein, some unsaturday fats, and plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.
Tericka
1 year ago.
I have a 12 year old who is allergic to dairy, nuts and bananas how can I ensure she has file for her competitions and maintains energy?
Bravo
1 year ago.
I am taking carbohydrates 4days before my swimming meet yes or not
SwimOutlet
1 year ago.
Hi Bravo!

It is not a problem. However, we recommend not to take in heavy carbs a day before your meet.
Marina
2 years ago.
New to swimming I sure what to feed my child night before swim meet. We are having enchiladas, rice and refried beans for supper is that okay to eat or should I prepare something else. I keep seeing spaghetti but we do not like spaghetti what other types of Latin meals are good for swimmers?
Dave Durdan
1 year ago.
Hi. Dave from Berkeley here.
Beans are a great source and typically before swim meets, you want to have something light. Even just rice and eggs are great. I would also suggest that swimmers should consume constantly throughout the day, like a piece of fruit for example. You should never be empty or full during a meet.
Hope this helps!
James
2 years ago.
Hello
I have a meet in a couple of days and how much should I eat for breakfast, since it the warmups are at 7?
Sadie
2 years ago.
My coach said that eating too much is very bad for you. I would suggest a slice of bread for breakfast and an apple or orange on the car ride or after your warm up.
Angel
2 years ago.
I have a swim meet tomorrow and I am a very picky eater. I don't like eggs and a lot of kinds of fruit. What should I eat for breakfast?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Angel!

Keep it light for breakfast like instant oatmeal made with skim or low-fat milk, whole grain toast with nut butter, dry cereal with yogurt, or a whole grain waffle with cottage cheese. To drink, enjoy a glass of water or milk.
swimmingisdabomb.com
2 years ago.
Hi SwimOutlet, I have A 200-meter freestyle in 2 days, and I'm looking for suggestions. Can you help?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi! This article will be helpful, please click on the link: https://www.swimoutlet.com/guides/how-to-pace-a-mid-distance-freestyle-event
Asa
2 years ago.
Hi! I have a swim meet tomorrow early in the morning. I was planning on eating a few eggs since I only have one event. Is that fine? Or should I eat after my event?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Asa!

Yes, you can eat your eggs for breakfast hours before the event for fuel. Good luck and have fun!
Ethan
2 years ago.
Hello I have a 100-meter freestyle sprint in 2 days and I am looking for something to eat before the race, can you help?
SwimOutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hi Ethan,

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.
Ethan
2 years ago.
Thank you so much
kea
2 years ago.
if i eat or drink anything during a meet my stomach get very queasy i think because im so nervous. what would help?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Kea,

Eating or Drinking light food during meet helps you stay energized. Nervousness is a manifestation of anxiety but if eating during meet makes you more uneasy, you might want to eat steady meal before the meet to energize you the whole meet.
Manoj
2 years ago.
I am learning swimming. I take my breakfast at 4.30am and lunch at 11.
by 2 tea followed by fruit at 3 pm. Swimming class at 5 pm.
I burp at alot in water during relaxing. how to avoid burp
Floyd
2 years ago.
I have an afternoon meet and I'm not sure if I should eat something light or heavy because I only have one event pls help me
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hello Floyd,
You will still want to eat a hearty breakfast before hand even if you're only swimming one meet.
Emilia
2 years ago.
Hello, I have my National Championship the day after tomorrow. My event is at 10am but my warm-up is at 7:30. I won't have much time for a good breakfast but what can I eat in between my warm-up and my event?
SwimOutlet
2 years ago.
Hi Emilia,

Yes, you can still eat healthy foods from your regular diet though, such as fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits.
Alena
2 years ago.
I have a swim meet in a couple of weeks and I'm only 15. Would eating an apple be okay before my swim meets please help me.
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hello Alena,
No, you want to eat something hearty before your meet. Something with carbs and protein.
Sandra Neamah
2 years ago.
What should I eat 6 hours before, and after that should I eat again? My meet is today and it’s my first plz help!
Swimoutlet.com
2 years ago.
Hello Sandra,
You will need to eat something hearty, carbs and protein, the morning of your meet. After, you want to eat carbs like whole wheat bread or pasta. Chocolate milk is a good option as well.
Alfred
3 years ago.
Hello would 1/2cup of oatmeal with 1 cup of blueberies and 4oz of turkey would be good?
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hello Alfred,
Yes, this would be great for the day before.
Olly
3 years ago.
What snacks are best just before a swimming long distance
Swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Hello Olly,
Energy bars, pieces of fruit, or any light snack is great.
David
3 years ago.
Hi, is a peanut-butter sandwich good to eat in between races? I have been eating one after each race usually and I feel good prior to the next event.
Just wanted to know how others think of this.
swimoutlet.com
3 years ago.
Absolutely! It's filled with protein and healthy fats. Pair it up with whole wheat bread and you're good to go.
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