Does Swimming Help You Lose Fat? Or Is It A Wasted Effort?
Does Swimming Help You Lose Fat? Or Is It A Wasted Effort?
Are you a few pounds overweight?
Has your doctor told you to start an exercise program to lose weight?
Have you been hooked by the late night infomercials, only to be let down by a lack of results?
You and I both know exercise is important. You can improve general health, shred unwanted belly fat, and build strength and endurance.
But you buy a membership to a gym, only to see your money go up in flames because you just don’t use the membership.
You are confused by what you read about exercise. Which is the best? Which can make me lose the most weight and keep it off?
You implore the help of a trainer and they try to tell you what the best workout for fat loss is. They don’t even scratch the surface of the different types of exercises out there.
You walk out of there more confused than when you went in.
I am here to tell you that not all exercises are the same.
Some exercises will help build a strong cardiovascular system, while some help you tone and strengthen muscles. But the question still remains: What is the best exercise for fat loss?
There is really no solid answer to this. Only that exercise is important for fat loss.
There are many different types of exercises. But the exercise that gives you the biggest bang for your buck would be cardiovascular work.
Now I’m not saying to avoid strength training exercise, because cardio just does not work without a good, strong foundation – a foundation you can get from strength training.
But in order to burn the most calories during a workout, cardiovascular exercise can be the answer.
There are many different forms of cardio you can do, from walking, to running and cycling, and finally, swimming. I am here to tell you, though, all of them will get the job done.
Cardiovascular exercise helps you burn more calories than strength training alone. Not only that, but you are strengthening your cardiovascular system.
Meaning your heart and lungs are getting a workout!
You also tend to use a lot of energy doing cardio. You utilize a good portion of your fatty acids for cardio work.
Yes, cardio burns fat stores.
What form is the best? Walking has been shown to improve fitness levels and help you lose weight.
So has cycling.
What about swimming? Can swimming help you burn fat?
The jury is still out on the benefits of swimming and weight or fat loss. But what we do know will astound you.
Swimming is a full body workout. You utilize a lot of muscle during your workout, and you can definitely feel it when you get out – shoulders are tight, and legs might be a little wobbly.
But you also give your lungs and heart a workout too. Most cardiovascular work utilizes large muscles groups (your legs) to move you through the workout.
Since your legs are your biggest asset, you should probably use them to your advantage.
Let me explain a little bit of the conflicting research behind swimming and fat loss.
Research done by Jang et al. determined swimming can help you expend more calories during a workout and at rest. Interestingly enough, women swimmers showed a higher expenditure than woman runners did.
The study by Jang and his team took 20 collegiate swimmers and runners, and studied their food intake and energy expenditure during exercise. They found increased body weight and body fat percentage in the swimmers, but found in comparison to runners for both sexes, their calorie intake was the same.
They showed that male runners burned more calories the male swimmers in a 24-hour period.
They found that the female swimmers burned more calories than female runners in the same 24-hour period, despite having reduced caloric intake. The runners ate more than the swimmers, but not by much.
But they still did find higher body fat levels in the swimmers. Why?
They believe that physiologically, the swimmers put on more body fat from the training and not by food intake.
Research done by Gwinup, determined that swimming had no effect on body fat or weight loss, compared to running or cycling.
In his research, he took minimally obese or overweight women and put them in one of three groups:
He found shocking results.
He started them on an exercise program, beginning with 10 minutes, progressing up to 60 minutes. The study lasted for a little over 6 months.
The women in the walking group lost 10% of their initial bodyweight, and the cycling group lost 12%. The swimming group showed no change in weight.
Then they looked at body fat percentage. The walking and cycling group showed significant reductions in body fat.
The swimming group showed no change at all.
Why? They blamed it on water temperature.
Water Temperature And Fat Loss
Temperature of the water does determine weight loss.
Researchers wanted to explore the temperature of pool water on weight loss. Their research was pretty surprising.
Research done by White et al. showed swimming in cold or neutral temperature water had very little effect on energy expenditure during the workout. In fact, neutral water swimmers burned 517 calories while cold water swimmers burned 505 calories.
However, they did show the swimmers in cold water had a higher energy intake after the workout than all the other groups. In fact, the energy intake was 44% higher than the neutral swimmers and control group!
Cold water increases food consumption.
Cold water has been shown to suppress Leptin levels and raise other hormones responsible for appetite control.
Cold water tells the body that we need to eat more, possibly to increase the temperature in your body.
Truth About Swimming
No matter what form of exercise you do, you are going to burn calories.
The goal to remember: Watch calorie intake after the workout.
Watching the amount of calories you eat after, will prevent you from wasting your workout. After all, weight loss works by burning more calories than you eat.
If you like to swim, GO FOR IT!
Swimming strengthens your cardiovascular system and can tone your muscles. Swimming can also help you burn extra calories while you workout.
Also, swimming is a great exercise for people who are just starting an exercise program, and for those who have limitations to doing land exercise, such as walking, jogging, or even cycling.
So remember: swim, watch your calorie intake, and enjoy your swimming experience. You can increase your metabolism and lose weight at the same time.
Zeyl, A. Stocks, JM. Taylor, NA. Jenkins, AB. Interactions between temperature and human leptin physiology in vivo and in vitro. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004. Vol. 82(4-5);pp. 571-578.
Gappmaier, E. Lake, W. Nelson, AG. Fisher, AG. Aerobic Exercise in water versus walking on land: effects on indices of fat reduction and weight loss of obese women. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2006. Vol. 46(4);pp.564-569.
White, LJ. Dressendorfer, RH. Holland, E. McCoy, SC. Ferguson, MA. Increased caloric intake soon after exercise in cold water. 2005. Vol. 15(1);pp. 38-47.
Gwinup, G. Weight loss without dietary restriction: Efficacy of different forms of aerobic exercise. Am J Sports Med. 1987. Vol. 15(3);pp.275-279.Jang, KT. Costill, D. Energy Balance in competitive runners and swimmers. Masters thesis.