Complex carbohydrates are an important macronutrient for the body in order to produce energy. They are broken down into glucose and used as energy to move, swim, cycle etc. Or they are stored as glycogen in the liver and in muscle tissue. During exercise, muscle glycogen is converted back into energy that can be used by the body. 

Your body constantly replenishes your glycogen stores and your nutrition and the amount of exercise you do will influence the size of your glycogen stores. 


Nutrition Before a Swim

It is absolutely vital that you don’t eat a huge meal just before you set off for a swim! This can result in cramping, indigestion or much worse. Give your body time to rest and digest any large meal before you set off. 

The following energy sources are rich in complex carbohydrates and will give you a steady and consistent supply of energy throughout the duration of your swim. Simple carbohydrates (think processed, sugary foods) will often result in short spikes in your energy, blood sugar and insulin levels, followed by an inevitable post-meal crash. When you are fuelling your body pre-swim then you want to avoid this as much as possible. Supplying your body properly with complex carbohydrates before a swim is a great way to provide yourself with energy throughout the entire duration of the activity.


Quality Complex Carbohydrates to Eat Before a Swim

Add these foods into your meals for a healthy supply of long lasting energy. 

• Sweet Potatoes

• Cous cous

• Bulger

• Brown Rice

• Whole wheat Pasta

• Spinach Pasta

• Oats


Nutrition During a Swim

Often during longer swims you will need some additional form of quick fuel to give your body and mind a shot of new energy. Try using the following sources, as they are healthy and natural. 

Healthy Sources of Carbohydrates to Eat During a Swim

• Dates

• Bananas

• Dried fruit

• Cranberries

• Strawberries

• Blueberries


Eat like a Sea Otter

Scoffing food whilst you’re swimming in the middle of a lake can be a tough art to master effectively. My brothers and I have honed this technique from much time spent in the waters of the River Eden, the Scottish Highlands and the Arctic Circle. 

Roll onto your back and float with your feet and head at the surface of the water. Now you can rest the food on your chest and eat at your leisure like a sea otter. Give it a try! ;)


If you would like to learn more about how wild swimming can positively impact your life and health, check out our first book “Swim Wild”. It’s written by youngest brother Jack with contributions from Calum and myself.