When it comes time for swim meets, staying fueled and ready to go can be a challenge for some swimmers. Everyone has different taste buds when it comes to healthy snacks for swim meets.
And what one swimmer likes might not work for another.
With so many options out there, what are some healthy snacks to eat at swim meets? While this is by no means an inclusive list, we have the top five options for healthy snacking. Snacks that will provide energy and keep you going at your next meet.
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Fruit is a great healthy snack to eat during swim meets.
And while fruit can get a bad reputation for having a lot of sugar, it’s important to remember that they have natural sugar. Natural sugar breaks down much easier than processed sugar, enabling your body to handle and process it easier.
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Not only are fruits healthy to eat and can provide energy, but they can also be easy to eat for those with swim meet anxiety.
Some good fruit options are:
- Bananas: Hands down, bananas are our favorite fruit to eat at meets. You’ll see many other swimmers also eating them. They’re easy to set aside in your bag because of the peal (or use a banana saver) and finish later. Additionally, they’re soft to eat, which makes it easy for anxious stomachs to handle. And for most, they also digest easily, so you can eat a quick bite or two just before a race
- Grapes: Store these in a baggy or a small container and they’re good to go for your next swim meet. Because they’re bite-sized, they can also be easy to eat. And for some, the more firm texture might make them easier for those who don’t like the texture of bananas.
- Apples: Or apple slices offer another good option. Some swimmers will eat applesauce from squeeze pouches, too. We will caution that applesauce can be a good option, but you should check the nutrition label to ensure extra sugar hasn’t been added. When in doubt, it’s best to stick with the natural fruit :). Slice them up for easy storage and to keep them from bruising
Most fruits are prone to bruising or becoming squished in swim bags. So we encourage you to pack them in a container to help protect them. And your belongings! There’s nothing worse than finding a squashed strawberry on your towel. Or worse, your suit!
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Lastly, remember that fruit can cause gas or diarrhea based on how your body processes it. Or how much you eat. Because of this, we highly recommend that you try new fruit well before your next swim meet to see what it does to your body.
During a swim meet, you should try to have some type of carbohydrates to help give your muscles energy. And while carbs get a bad reputation in the diet world, they are necessary for athletes.
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It’s also worth noting that almost everything has some amount of carbohydrates in them. From fruits and vegetables to bread and pasta. The difference comes when you eat too much ‘bad’ carbohydrates and not enough ‘good’ carbs.
But when it comes to carbs, pasta is a simple healthy snack for swim meets.
Whole grain or protein pasta is the best and can be a bit healthier. However, for athletes, regular pasta isn’t always bad.
Plus, it’s healthier and easier to eat than other carbs. Such as muffins and donuts. 🙂
Pasta is easy to cook, pack in a container, and take to your next meet. We will note that you have to like eating cold pasta though. And sometimes, even pasta without any sauce. Or minimum sauce.
If you can tolerate cold pasta, then give it a try! And for whatever you don’t finish at the swim meet, you can always eat it later for dinner.
Or some type of nut butter can be a healthy snack to eat at a swim meet.
Peanut butter is a great source of protein. And whereas the carbs in pasta can give you quick bursts of energy, the protein in peanut butter is longer lasting.
That said, make sure you check the nutritional information. Some peanut or nut butter brands try to add in extra sugar. The ingredient list should really only contain the nut that was used and possibly some salt and oils.
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You can eat peanut butter straight from the container or add it to something else. Such as adding some dark chocolate chips or putting a spoonful on an apple slice.
Our favorite is to put peanut butter on a tortilla and eat it that way. There are meets where we add slices of banana to get a good combination of protein, fruit, and carbs.
We will note that adding peanut or nut butter onto any type of carb can make it more difficult to eat for those with nerves. Its thick texture can sit heavy in some swimmer’s stomachs, too.
Again, we recommend that you try various combinations before practice to get an idea of what works for your body. Trying something new the day of (or even the week before) a meet isn’t a good idea.
For something more snack-like, consider some unsalted pretzels. Yes, we said unsalted, not salted, pretzels. 🙂
We know, pretzels with salt are more preferred for most people and athletes need some sodium during competition. However, you don’t need that much salt. It’ll only encourage dehydration when you need to be hydrating.
It might be a bit of a challenge to find unsalted pretzels, but Snyder produces a few varieties that you can try out.
Pretzels are great for kids who don’t want to eat foods such as fruit or pasta because they’re ‘healthy’. Pretzels feel more like a snack and a treat, and they’re a better alternative than the nachos and hot dogs offered at swim meets 😉
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We will caution that pretzels can be a bit on the dry side. For swimmers with bad nerves, this might be a bit difficult to eat. So be sure to encourage them to sip some water while eating to help some.
If you don’t want to eat peanut or nut butter, try plain nuts! Unsalted, of course 😉
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts offer healthy fats and oils, along with high protein for energy. They’re easy enough to carry in a bag and they’re easy to pop in your mouth on the go.
Make sure that any nuts you get are already shelled. You don’t want to fight with removing the shell at a swim meet. And more than likely, the shells will end up on the floor for people to step on.
You can also mix nuts in with some granola and chocolate pieces if you want a bit more flavor!
BONUS! 3 Unhealthy Snacks at Swim Meets
While there are many healthy snacks to eat at swim meets there are also other unhealthy snacks. Most of which, you can find at the meet itself. Here are three snacks you should avoid at your next swim meet.
They’re also for sale at the concession stand, but nachos are one of the worst things you can eat at a swim meet. For parents and swimmers alike! They might smell good and they look tempting, but they’ll sit like a rock in your stomach.
And obviously, they provide very little nutritional value. Save them for after the meet, where you can enjoy them without the threat of feeling sick in the middle of your race.
Hot Dogs and/or Pizza
Another frequent sight at the concession stand and they also smell fantastic for most swimmers. Or they can make your stomach roll if you don’t like the smell or if you have nerves.
And while the smell alone can be appetizing for some, they’re snacks that are best eaten after a meet. Hot dogs don’t have the right kind of protein that you need for a meet and most pizzas can be greasy. Neither of which sit well in your stomach when you’re racing.
You’re more likely to keep burping up the taste throughout the meet and your race. Or worse, it could lead to you throwing up.
Do yourself the favor and avoid them during the meet. If you have to have one, wait until your last race and treat yourself to one as a reward.
Candy and/or Soda
For someone who has a sweet tooth, it’s hard to resist the call of candy that’s sold at swim meets. Especially when there’s a large selection to choose from.
As a swimmer, sweets are okay in moderation. But candy isn’t the type of sweets that you should eat during a swim meet. The sugar will only give you a quick burst of energy and then leave you crashing shortly after.
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If you have a sweet tooth or just want something sweet at swim meets, consider other options such as fruit. Or look up healthy alternatives for cookies, such as ones based in oats, bananas, and peanut/nut butter.
These are much healthier snacks for you but can also satisfy the craving for sugar. Without impacting your swim meet!
As always, happy swimming!
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Chevron is a current competitive swimmer with almost 20 years of experience in the pool. And although she fell into the sport by accident in her high school years, she still trains daily and competes throughout the year. She’s committed to providing guidance to all levels of swimmers and believes that everyone should know how to swim.