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Old 02-25-2011, 07:07 AM   #1
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Default Swimming bad for fat loss - discuss!

What are folks' personal experiences with losing weight/fat by swimming? There are a few articles floating around (ah!) that suggest this might be true. A Google search will quickly reveal the positions. Which appear to be:
  • novices don't/can't work hard enough to get a robust enough aerobic benefit
  • however, swimming somehow burns enough calories to trigger insane hunger (?), so people overcompensate with food afterwards
  • the cold encourages fat retention as a protective mechanism (can't see how this is relevant to anyone who spends less than 40% of their day in a pool, though. I guess this could be meaningful for pros, who don't shed as much fat as other athletes. Still, there could be a selection bias here.)

Personally I get ravenous after a swim, and I *know* I'm not strong enough a swimmer to work all that hard. Maybe there's some voodoo going on with the digestive system, who knows?

Interested in all comments/experiences!
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:34 AM   #2
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I get killer hunger after swimming!

I was on a swim team for several years, was a lifeguard since I was 15 and I swim in the ocean as much as possible, even did a 2 mile ocean challenge and passed.

IMO swimming is a great exercise.

Especially for people who are morbidly obese. I think for the average person, most would actually have to swim, not just play around, to get a good workout.
"Just Do It"
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:58 AM   #3
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My kids are all competitive swimmers, and I can tell you this, during the swim season the entire team eats like mad and slims down. I think the trick to using swimming to lose weight is that you have to swim in the evening, and work enough at it that when you get home all you want to do is go to bed. We've also found that soup is a great after swimming snack, it tends to warm you up, fill you up and not have too many calories into the bargain.
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Old 02-25-2011, 01:39 PM   #4
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Indeed swimming can get you into a eating spree. When i was swimming i had 2 options:
-> Endure it. If you have enough motivation you won't eat.
-> Don't eat before swimming, eat after. I found a neat trick how to eat a little even if i`m almost starving to death. The key is to chew like you never chewed before, i don't know the mechanism behind it ... either you fool your stomach that you have eaten a lot or you just get bored of the food. When i thought about this and tried it for the first time i managed to drop from 1 whole pizza to just 2 slices . Hope it helps (>'.')>
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Old 02-26-2011, 06:34 PM   #5
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I have asthma and my immunologist/asthma specialist has wholeheartedly recommended swimming, even when I was flaring during the summer. The fact its climate controlled helps, as too cold/hot/humid is killer on my asthma. I don't know if I buy the cold water thing, as most pools are heated. And here you don't swim in the lake until its been hot for a stretch, otherwise the water will be horribly cold. It's low impact while giving a great cardio. There are classes offered that are actual fitness classes but in the water, especially good for people with joint/muscle problems.

I do agree that it makes you insane hungry, but knowing that going in, you can just plan meals or snacks for after with lots of filling vegetables.

I wish I could get back into swimming, I loved it as a kid. If I could do it without having to wear a bathing suit I most likely would
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Old 02-27-2011, 05:43 AM   #6
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Cold water does not inhibit fat loss. It causes you to burn more calories in order to maintain your body temperature.
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Old 02-28-2011, 05:24 PM   #7
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Swimming is a great exercise. I don't know what 'experts' said that overweight people can't work 'hard enough' to elicit a 'good enough' metabolic response, but it sounds like total 'bull' to me. Excuse me, BULL. As with all things, if you're just starting to work out, you're not going to be able to work at the level of a competitive athlete, but that doesn't mean you can't reap the benefits. You get better at a movement/sport/any task in general by practicing it. The more you do, the better you get and the longer, stronger work you can put in over time. The best part about swimming is that if you carry a lot of fat, you will initially have an easier time floating (fat density < water density). As you lose fat, you will have to do more work to stay afloat, which in turn burns more fat, etc. But by the end, you will have a lot of muscle and a lot of swimming practice to compensate!

My rules:
1) eat real food - more vegetables, moderate meat, moderate fruits, less grains, less sugar, less vegetable oils.
2) exercise - moderate intensity cardio, sprinting, heavy lifting, dedicated stretching and mobility.
3) live - relax, de-stress, meditate.

Disclaimer: I'm not professionally qualified to make any formal recommendations. I've just done my homework and I'm my own guinea pig. All of my data, unless otherwise cited, comes from a sample size of n=1 (me).
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Old 04-04-2011, 09:00 PM   #8
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Well, I'm not an expert that's obvious by my size, but swimming is the ONLY way I was able to drop 50lb. My back used to hurt when walking...now walking isn't even an option as I am recovering from knee surgery. I can't wait to get back into the pool. I wish the weather would cooperate!!!
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:41 PM   #9
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Default swimming

Swimming is pretty much the only excercise my fiance enjoys so its better than nothing. I tend to think its difficult to swim enough to burn many calories until you're a pretty advanced swimmer.
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kay_in_PA View Post
Cold water does not inhibit fat loss. It causes you to burn more calories in order to maintain your body temperature.
This. It's the same science behind drinking ice water -- basically, your body is working harder to keep your core temperature up, so you're actually burning more calories.

Also, my brother and I used to live in a house with a backyard pool when we were younger. We went swimming every day in the summer and we were both not only slim and trim, but in excellent shape.
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