How to Prevent Indigestion When Swimming

The keys to avoiding indigestion when swimming are to be careful about what you eat beforehand. Also, you need to consider how much time you allow your body to process meals.
How to Prevent Indigestion When Swimming

Last update: 02 February, 2021

Indigestion can cause serious problems for athletes, especially for swimmers. It’s often brought on by sudden activity after a period of rest or sudden changes of temperature, particularly after you’ve just eaten. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can prevent indigestion when swimming.

Many athletes suffer from problems with digestion, including diarrhea and constipation. However, aside from being inconvenient, these problems can sometimes be painful enough to prevent people from training or negatively affect their performance. Once digestion problems appear, they can be difficult to get rid of. Therefore, it’s best to stop them from appearing in the first place.

What causes indigestion?

One of the main causes of indigestion is a sudden change in temperature after having just eaten. This is the main reason why it’s a good idea not to dive straight into the pool after a meal.

If the water temperature is significantly different from your body temperature, this can cause your blood vessels to contract. The body does this to stop heat loss, but it also stops your body from digesting food.

From this point on, it’s common to suffer from nausea and a bloated sensation. It’s also possible to feel a bit dizzy and need to vomit or even suffer cold sweats. It’s a really unpleasant feeling and you definitely won’t feel like training!

Another cause of indigestion is increased training on a full stomach. This happens because exercise demands more blood flow to other parts of the body.

In turn, the blood supply to the stomach is reduced, and it digests food slower, leading to the same effects as mentioned above.

A woman suffering from indigestion.

How can I prevent indigestion when swimming?

The first thing to do to prevent indigestion is simply to leave a couple of hours between eating and training. The sooner you exercise after eating, the more likely you’ll have digestion problems.

In fact, this research published in the journal Nutrients looks at how physical exercise slows down the stomach and the digestive process.

Another key is to make sure that the meal you eat before exercise doesn’t contain too much fat. Fat has been shown to have an effect on the speed of digestion, just like proteins and fibers, according to research published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Instead, before training, try to make sure that you eat foods that are easy to digest and avoid sauces and whole foods.

You should also try not to drink too much before exercise, particularly if it isn’t water. Both soft drinks and milk take much longer to digest than water, increasing the risk of indigestion. If you want to make sure you stay hydrated, cold water is the best option.

Improve your habits to prevent indigestion

A woman drinking water to prevent indigestion when swimming.

If you want to prevent indigestion when swimming, you should first consider planning your meals before training. Making sure you pick the right foods that contain the nutrients you need is a good way of making sure that digestion doesn’t slow down. Ideally, whole grains and fats should be left until after training to help muscle recovery.

You should also avoid soft drinks or alcoholic drinks. Milk is also a bad choice because of its high protein and lipid content. Finally, any irritant food is likely to have an effect on digestion, so avoid any spicy foods.

As well as choosing the right foods, you need to leave enough time for your body to process them before you exercise. You need to make sure that the food has had enough time for the stomach to break it down.

This won’t just prevent indigestion; it’ll also make sure you get the most nutrients once the food moves to the intestines. This way, not only will you avoid discomfort but you’ll also improve performance!

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  • Mattin LR., Yau AMW., Mciver V., James LJ., Evans GH., The effect of exercise intensity on gastric emptying rate, appetite and gut derived hormone responses after consuming a standardised semi solid meal in healthy males. Nutrients, 2018.
  • Steingoetter A., Buetikofer S., Curcic J., Menne D., et al., The dynamics of gastric emptying and self reported feelings of satiation are better predictors than gastrointestinal hormones of the effects of lipid emulsion structure on fat digestion in healthy adults- a bayesian inference approach. J Nutr, 2017. 147 (4): 706-714.