Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Weight Loss
Moderators: spoiled_candy, Mollybygolly, devilish_patsy, nycgirl

swimming? Bad for weight loss??

Quote  |  Reply
Ok, so I've started swimming every morning to add exercise to my diet to lose some weight.  But I read some stuff on the internet and in the NYTimes that talked about swimming not being a good exercise for weight loss.  What do you all think about it?
56 Replies (last)
Original Post by malek690:

Swimming is possibly the best workout you can get for your body...but as far as weight loss goes, you HAVE to watch what you eat. If you maintain a diet that isn't geared for weight loss, you will only see minimal weight loss from the swimming itself.

I swam for 4 years varsity in high school - very intense training. I never really changed my diet (and actually probably increased my calorie intake if anything) and as a result, hardly lost any weight. Not to be discouraging, but if you're going to continue swimming, make sure you compliment it with a diet in order to lose weight.

If one wants to lose weight, they have to watch what they eat regardless of what exercise they do. Exercise alone will not cause the weight loss. Start your journey with a healthy meal plan that includes a deficit.

 Swimming is my favorite cardio 3-4 times a week following 45 min stretches and weights. I usually drink protein whey smoothie when finished in locker room that holds until the next scheduled meal. My hunger is actually less on the days that I swim than the next day.

Get in the pool and good luck to whoever resurrected this 4 year old thread.

I'm no "scientician" but, for me at least, swimming is an effective weight loss exercise.  As an overweight high school kid, I began swimming four nights a week in 1994.  I went from 230lbs to about 205lbs over the course of approximatley six months without any major changes in my diet (I lived with my parents then, and pretty much ate whatever they provided).

Well I was a lifeguard and swim instructor for over ten years and yes, I saw many overwieght men & women in the pool.  But, if you keep your calorie count down and exercise regulary, swimming is great.  Currently, due to an injury, swimming is the only exercise I can get and I am down 25 pounds.  It does work and it never makes me any more hungry.

I too am discouraged there is an article like this out there.  I have two herniated discs in my lower back, and swimming has been the only exercise I can do without pain.  I don't love it as much as what I used to be able to do (i.e. kickboxing, dance), but it is exercise.  I have been swimming now for about a month, 3x week, and have worked my way up to a mile.  I have always eaten fairly healthy. I could probably be swimming faster, but I'm still concerned about my fresh back injury, and overdoing it will only set me back from any exercise.   I don't know if I have lost weight (I don't weigh myself and rely more on how my clothes fit and how I feel) BUT I am more toned and lean, my posture is better, and I feel great. 

Isn't any exercise useful for losing weight?  Isn't any exercise better than no exercise for losing weight and getting healthier?   If you like to swim and see/feel benefits from it, regardless of what an article says.  We all need to find what works for us as individuals.

I know you said that there were some overweight people in the pool but they maybe the ones who want to lose weight. Swimming is exercise and a great way to start getting fit.

The bottom line is that exercise alone without dietary changes doesn't really lead to weight loss.  Your body will naturally adjust your intake to maintain.  So swimming is great for you and will tone and condition and make you healthy.  If you like it, go for it.  I never liked the getting wet part, but other than that I like swimming for exercise.  I've been walking, but now have shin splints, so I probably should swim myself.

I find swimming is my number 1 weight loss exercise, it also helps keep shape in my upper body. Cycling is the other thing I do and that burns a tonne of calories no doubt, but if I had a pool in my house to swim laps and had a choice between that and cycling, just from the perspective of what it does for me, I would swim.

The problem with swimming is that people tend to want to eat a lot after swimming, I am not sure what it is, but I remember even when younger that a day out in the waves would leave me famished. Swimming laps tends to do the same thing. However having some water or a diet soda + some fruit handy in the car afterwards is enough.The first time, perhaps the first 5 times you will tell yourself it is not satisfying enough, but it is not true. People might think "yeah, but I am different, I need to go to Taco Bell/McDonalds/KFC etc" again that is not true. Adding 200-300 calories back in after a 1-2 hour swim is more than sufficient for what the body "needs".


Whilst swimming is my preferred exercise, everyone certainly is different. The real key though is picking an exercise that you enjoy doing and that you will be happy to commit to doing. If you find swimming 100 laps is something you can commit to doing and you can zone out and not just drag **** then stick to it, because you can be sure that an hour of swimming will have a far bigger impact than an hour of television (or any other sedentary activity).

it is true that swimming doesn't promote fast wieght loss... you burn fat build muscle and increase your cardio ability... I only briefly viewed some of the replies...

the lifeguard is right there are women that go three times a week and never lose..

BECAUSE: and it isn't all bad..

they use the class and time in the water as a social time... if you observe they only show up for the classes that don't require alot.. but are fun..

two they are eating right after class.. they take the party to the donut house or coffee shop

they are only floating and not using the water for resistance and endurance

It is good that they are there but they are staying active like taking an afternoon stroll through a garden.. it's pleasent but not a workout.

hope this helps.


Swimming for me is an excellent exercise because it takes my hunger away for 1 to 2 days.  Yes, this is probably wierd.


While swimming, I use resistance paddles for the arms and training fins for the legs.  Swimming makes me very, very thirsty so I drink tons of water.


Walking is also important for me.


However, if needing to lose weight, I follow a very structured diet plan.

Quote  |  Reply

Serendipitous thread resurrection. I got back on the diet/exercise wagon last week with swimming, about 1-2 km at a time (I'd been doing couch to 5 k before that, but not minding what I eat) and while I can't speak to results one way or another yet, I haven't noticed any post swim hunger pangs, which I think is due to fairly warm water and taking ten minutes in the sauna after swimming. (I was famished afterI went swimming in a cold river during the summer.)

Original Post by caitbo:

Ok, so I'm not taking a side here, but I'm a Lifeguard and I'll share my observations.  Our facility offers many water aerobics classes.  The same women come to these classes 5 days a week, all of them are over weight ranging from 45-100+ lbs.  They have been doing this for years and I see no difference, however I don't know their eating habbits.  On the other hand there are also many people who swim laps on a regular basis.  They seem to build endurance, but in my opinion they don't look like they've tipped the scale to the left, if you catch my drift.  I used to swim laps on a regular basis, I didn't lose weight, but I didn't gain it either.  So, I think that if you like to swim go for it, it won't hurt you, swimming does burn the calories, but if you want to lose serious lbs, you might want to think about something more intense.

So, I kind of agree with you on this for one reason - I have seen the way some overweight people work out at the pool.  I think people (especially very overweight people with limited experience with exercising) tend to think that just because they are doing the ACTION, they are going to lose the pounds.  This is not necessarily true.  Swimming is great exercise, but you can't just expect to lose weight by leisurely floating around on the boogie-board, swimming VERY slow laps, or wading around in the wading pool.  That is awesome for helping elderly people or people recovering from surgery or injury to gain mobility.  It is not good for weight loss.

You HAVE to challenge yourself.  If you don't feel your muscles working, getting a little tired, you're probably not gaining much ground.  Decide on how many laps you want to swim, then time yourself doing them. Next time try to beat your previous time.  When you get really fast, add more laps.  Your arms should be quite tired (but not sore).  If you find you're not feeling much in the legs, kick HARDER, alternate using big scissor kicks.  I always do some extra laps just on the boogieboard, but REALLY kicking hard to give my legs a good workout.  If you're doing the whole "water walking" thing, push yourself - go as fast as you reasonably can and sustain it for a determined amount of time. 

All exercise should be work, even swimming - there is no miracle "easy exercise."  You should feel tired when doing it.  Afterwards, you will have so much energy, feel awesome, and notice big changes in your body after a while.  But challenge yourself - you are not a daisy.  Work hard, reap the benefits.






Okay it depends on what kind of swimming your doing. I swim competitively still. swimming countless laps at a moderate pace will burn some calories, and as said before you cant go and eat them back afterwords and Swimmers do tend to gain a SMALL layer of body fat to keep the body warm.     

BUT it depends on the swimming, I recommend interval training. ex. 10x50m on the 45 seconds that will get your heart rate up thus burning calories after the work out. Im not sure about the water making you hungry because of tempeture.The diet defiantly plays a huge roll. but if your trying to loose weight while swimming you should interval train. Michael consumes 8500-12000 calories trying to maintain weight! but he also swims 2-6 hours a day  


Quote  |  Reply

I swim too Kelly, and I find it great exersize. I think the article is wrong. I dont see why we wouldnt lose weight swimming regularly.  I havent been going as often as I like, but I do find I can swim a little longer each week! I am sooooo hungry after a swim, and this is one of the reasons I believe it to be an excellent workout. It obviously uses up a lot of calories and energy to make one that starving.

Quote  |  Reply

swimming is NOT bad for weight loss, full stop.

any activity you put your body through is an aid to your health.

when growing up i swam excessively ... 10 years later i got back into the pool because my life was simply, work work work, i've not done any real sport for nearly 10 years.

i weighed 161lbs, within 6-7weeks of working on getting my form back, technique, stamina, endurance levels etc.. i now weighed 147lbs. my weight fluctuates pretty fast, i think its in my genes or my metabolism is fast.

the thing is i LOVED swimming when i was younger and i still do today. i swim 4-5 times a week, each session is between 2000-2500 meters. im in the pool for probably an 45-60mins. 

DO I GET HUNGRY AFTER I SWIM? after the first 4 weeks, i was so hungry, but drinking a sports drink while i swam totally helped that craving. if it didnt help i would have a very small bowl of Bran Flakes with milk. if the hunger was still there i would make a smoothie (Banana, mango, and milk). for lunch i switched from potato crisp/chips to fruit and from sandwiches to healthy wraps. 

muscle definition has improved, but remember this you have to push yourself in the pool. i started swimming after 10 years and all i could do was swim 500meters, 6 weeks later im swimming 80 lengths in a 25m pool non-stop. my stomach is a washboard. try to swim faster and faster all the time. check out for some programs.

cut out fried food, beer, anything that contains high saturated fats, think more fresh and lean.

good luck, and swimming DOES help weight loss, BAD FOOD DOES NOT aid weight loss.



ancient thread is ancient

Quote  |  Reply

Since water aerobaics was mentioned and I am very familiar with it, I do want to comment: it is true that many water aerobics folks are overweight and this is the only exercise that seems to put less stress on joints that are already damaged.

Many water aerobic folks are also active Weight Watchers or other food plan followers. I dont think anyone expects water aerobics to help lose weight, but it is exercise and fun.  It does tone and that is great when you struggling to lose weight. And you arent sitting home and eating! 

56 Replies (last)