Parents often ask their children to wait for an hour after having a heavy meal before they dive into the pool. Well, they are not wrong, this advice is handed over from generations and therefore, children are bound to believe this myth.
Parents or elders not just believe this myth but also have an explanation as to how eating before swimming can cause cramps, in pure medical terms known as stitch, and one might drown in the bargain. Of course they are interested in your safety and that is the reason why they impose such restrictions. Yet, it is not true, and definitely not in all cases.
Is It Dangerous To Swim After Eating?
Digestion requires great amount of blood flow to the stomach, whereas exercising at the same time requires blood flow to the targeted muscles, here we mean, the arms and legs. This may deprive the stomach of oxygen, leading to a muscle cramp.
However, such cramps are mild and it is important that a swimmer does not freak out in such situations. Eating a heavy meal is definitely not recommended, as it could result in vomiting, yet very unlikely to result in drowning. Hence, it is not dangerous to swim after eating.
Some people swim after eating, without suffering from stomach cramps, as their heart is strong enough to pump enough blood to both the muscles.
Is It Bad To Eat Before Swimming?
If you are going to swim for more than an hour, it is highly recommended you eat something before you dive into the pool. This is because the sugar levels in your body may run down and tire you earlier.
Your brain gets its energy from the sugar in your bloodstream. If the blood sugar levels drop, your brain does not get its share of energy and you end up feeling terribly fatigued. Sometimes, you even tend to experience blackouts and may feel giddy. Therefore, eating before exercising can help you exercise longer and tire you less.
On the other hand, if you binge on plenty of sugar rich foods, blood sugar level is sure to rise and your pancreas is likely to produce more insulin than usual to digest the sugar. This may cause your blood sugar to drop too low, too fast. Therefore, it is not bad to eat before swimming, the point is to eat the right kind of food and avoid overeating.
Dr. Richard Fedorak, head of gastroenterology at University of Alberta Hospital, says "it is perfectly safe to eat before you swim." A simple meal is very unlikely to affect your ability while you dive into the pool.
If you happen to swim after eating, try not to over-exert yourself, as that might aggravate the urge to throw up, which may not be quite polite for the rest who are using the pool.
Foods that might not make you feel nauseous are granola bars, raisins, carrots, cucumbers, fresh fruits, roasted seaweeds and so on. These foods are light on the stomach yet end up giving you plenty of energy required during the swim. Remember do not overeat but eat just enough.
Another rule of thumb is that you ought to sip water every now and then. Being in the water does not keep you hydrated, you have to drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated during the swim. It is not bad to eat before you swim, however the ground rule is do not overdo it. Eat just enough and you will be just fine. Enjoy your swim!