Still waiting for an hour to swim after eating? For decades, our mothers have been warning that we need time to digest our food before jumping in the water. Are they right?

“It’s an old wives’ tale,” says Mike Blondal, a kinesiologist and head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos swim team, the current men’s and women’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport champions.

“We encourage our kids to eat while training. They’ll have power bars or a bowl of nuts and then swim,” he says. “They need this for recovery before the next workout.”

To avoid food before swimming would not be practical for many of Blondal’s swimmers. “We have students who are in class all day. They eat a sandwich on the way to the pool and then they swim.” If they ate a very large meal before swimming, he admits, they might feel bloated during the workout, and it may affect their performance, but it wouldn’t be dangerous.

“I am sure no one has died because they ate before they went swimming,” says Blondal.

The Dietitians of Canada recommends eating a variety of foods to fuel a healthy active lifestyle. Veggies and fruit, grains, and dairy products fuel active muscles. Proteins such as meat and nuts, as well as milk, help to build and repair muscles after working out.

Swim for fitness

Canada’s lakes and oceans are finally warm and welcoming. Jump in! Swimming is a great overall workout.

Here are some benefits of swimming listed by Dietitians of Canada.

  • Improves cardiovascular fitness

  • Improves flexibility

  • Increases range of motion

  • Reduces stress

  • Provides a moderate intensity aerobic activity, which helps prevent obesity and other chronic diseases

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