Do I Need to Wait 30 Minutes to Swim After Eating?
“Wait 30 minutes before you swim!” How often have we heard that after lunch or a snack at the beach, the lake, or the pool? It makes sense in a general way; if you’ve ever hopped on an elliptical or tried to go for a run 15 minutes after dinner, you’ll see very quickly why cardio and meals shouldn’t be a back-to-back thing. But there’s no ubiquitous little saying about how long you need to wait between eating and running or eating and biking. So what’s the deal about swimming in particular? And do you really need to wait that magic half an hour before jumping in the pool?
No, you probably don’t need to wait exactly 30 minutes between eating going for a swim – although you might not feel like swimming right after a big meal, said registered dietitian and triathlon coach Cindy Dallow, PhD. “It’s really personal preference,” she told POPSUGAR. “Obviously, if you eat a large meal, wait until you feel ready to swim.” That particularly holds true if you’ve just finished a high-fat or high-protein meal, Cindy explained. Fats and protein take longer to digest than carbs, and exercising right after eating them might cause discomfort.
“Definitely wait if you have eaten a heavy or big meal,” said Kim Evans, ACE, fitness coordinator at Spring Lake Fitness and Aquatic Center in Spring Lake, MI. “Take a walk and move around a bit to get that food digesting before going in the water.” Again, that’s just to prevent the same kind of GI upset you might get if you go for a run too soon after lunch or dinner. For swimming in particular, “if you do swallow some water, there is a good chance you could throw up that meal,” Kim added. But it’s based more on how you feel and what you ate than any iron-clad rule or waiting period.
When it comes to kids, on the other hand, Kim understood the rationale. “As a parent and person who works at a pool, when there are pool parties, the kids play first and then eat,” Kim told POPSUGAR. Birthday cake and ice cream followed by jumping and splashing around the pool “can cause some spectacular upchucks!” she said. As for the rest of us, you’re fine to set down the timer and go by however your stomach feels.