Wait to Swim After Eating: Myth or Fact?

Wait to Swim After Eating - Myth or Fact?

You must wait at least 30 minutes to swim after eating. We’ve all heard it, but should we believe it? Where did this old wives’ tale come from and does it hold any truth? That said, let’s DIVE right into the “wait to swim after eating” theory.

Should I Wait to Swim After Eating?

It’s important to practice safe swimming practices. Therefore, it’s only natural to be cautionary when you’re familiar with the “wait to swim after eating” theory. But where does it come from?

The theory behind this tale is connected to the digestive system. When you consume food, blood flow is increased to the stomach and intestines to absorb the nutrients found within that food. It was believed that with more blood being diverted to the stomach and intestines, there would be less blood to deliver oxygen and remove waste products from exercising muscles. This was thought to bring on severe cramps and a subsequent increased risk of drowning. Fear not my friends! There is no medical evidence to support this myth. While the body does provide extra blood for digestion, there is more than enough blood within the body to fuel digestion and your working muscles.

Recreational vs. Aerobic Swimming

If you are swimming as a recreational activity, it should not pose a problem when eating prior to entering the water. While there is no medical evidence to support this myth, if you will be engaging in exercise in the water, it may be a good idea to eat at least an hour in advance to avoid stomach upset.

In short, the idea that you must wait at least 30 minutes to swim after eating to avoid muscle cramps is a myth. Your body has enough blood to digest food and keep your arm and leg muscles functioning properly.

If you are interested in learning more about nutrition for swimming or have general nutrition questions, contact me for your free nutrition consultation!

Schedule a Nutrition Consultation

Sarah Brunner Registered Dietician at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian

Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.