Should You Wait to Swim After You Eat?
You don’t have to wait to swim after you eat. Swimming after eating doesn’t cause cramps and has minimal to no effect on swimming performance. The same goes for any other type of exercise. Although one may get slight cramping, nausea, or suffer minimal performance loss, the idea that you have to wait “at least 30 minutes to an hour” after eating to swim is a myth.
The Facts on Waiting to Swim After You Eat
Despite the lack of formal studies on the matter (meaning even the expert advice on this is somewhat anecdotal), all experts seem to agree that the idea of waiting to swim after you eat is a myth. Professional competitive swimmers, who would know from experimental evidence, and doctors who would know from studying the human body, have noted that waiting to swim until your food has been digested is unnecessary.
There has never been a reported case of eating before swimming leading to drowning. No major medical or safety organization recommends waiting to swim after eating.
Eating Before Swimming – #18.
FACT: No drowning accidents from cramping up after a big meal have ever been reported. Get the Facts from the CDC on Unintentional Drowning.
Does Digesting Deprive Muscles of Blood, Thus Causing Cramps?
One of the more persistent, but false, theories as to why one must wait to swim after they eat is the idea that digestion steals the blood your muscles need to function properly while swimming. This theory is based on a grain of truth but is mostly unfounded.
According to one article from DukeHealth, which quotes Mark Messick, MD, a family medicine doctor at Duke Primary Care Timberlyne, “the body does supply extra blood to aid in digestion, but not enough blood to keep your arm and leg muscles from properly functioning. Your biggest danger related to eating and swimming is probably a minor cramp.”
The Digestive System: CrashCourse Biology #28.
TIP: The causes of cramps are still not fully understood, but there is no evidence that eating gives you a cramp. Intense exercise directs some blood flow away from the digestive area, which can make you feel nauseous but should, in theory, have little to no effect on your workout or swim outside that.
Does Swimming on a Full Stomach Pose Any Risk?
There is a theoretical possibility that one could develop a cramp while swimming with a full stomach; a person may feel queasy during vigorous exercise after a big meal. These aren’t risks as much as they are considerations.
Should I Wait to Swim or Exercise After Eating?
Statistically speaking, you won’t cramp up and drown if you swim directly after eating. However, this doesn’t mean you should eat directly before demanding exercise. Your digestive system needs resources while digesting. Intense physical activity after a big meal may be uncomfortable, but swimming around after a normal meal has not been shown to be dangerous. Most food leaves your stomach about two to six hours after you eat it, so there is some wisdom in waiting two hours after an extremely large meal before taking on a triathlon.
Fact or Myth? – You should wait 30 minutes to swim after you eat?