View Full Version : Swimming & Weight Loss

October 19th, 2005, 01:51 PM
It seems that there are completely different opinions among the so-called experts when it comes to swimming for weight loss.

Does anyone know of someone who swims regularly and has not lost weight? I don't mean a leisurely couple of laps, but a regular workout.
Are there any obese swimmers who work out regularly and are competitive?

I'm thinking that the fitness experts don't like swimming because they are either:
a. Not good swimmers
b. Can't swim enough distance to get a good work out in; or
c. Had a bad experience with swimming.

Any input on this topic is appreciated (beyond the diet and exercise speech).

October 19th, 2005, 02:02 PM
Losing weight is about one thing, burning more calories than you consume. If you can maintain your weight with no exercise then swimming while maintaining the same caloric intake will surely yield a loss of weight.

October 19th, 2005, 02:08 PM
From what I recall in a kinesiology class many years ago, weight loss in swimming is gradual. You may maintain the weight you began with when beginning for a month or longer, but you will "look" different, meaning the weight will be re-distributed. If you are looking to lose weight add another activity such as walking, bike riding, or circuit weight training with alot of reps on a low weight. And of course eat better. As far as fitness experts, I just think their expertise is in the gym setting and not at the pool.

As far as being competitve, do you mean Master's swimmers? Sure, I've seen some larger athletes at meets, but generally no. As far as the younger set, no. Like the previous post, those young people are burning too many calories to sustain any weight beyond what they burn the next day. Now for rec swimmers, I've seen plenty who never lose any weight and that's due to the level of effort they do or don't put into the workout or swim.

October 19th, 2005, 04:03 PM
Thanks for your comments. Yes, I am speaking of the masters swimmer - 3-4 times a week swimming for 1 to 1 1/2 hours with 2000 yds+.

I did a search of former threads and there was some discussion about weight loss but mostly the successes were posted by men.

I just started back in the water after 25 years and many pounds. While I realize it took me many years to gain the weight, I want to lose it now! :p Swimming is the only sport that really feels natural to me. I hate running & aerobics, I can tolerate walking and cycling is great when the weather is good, but Michigan's cycling season is rather short (too hot or too cold).

I'm glad to know that if I don't see immediate results on the scale not to panic.

October 19th, 2005, 04:20 PM
Woman "weighing" in here....

I lost 30 pounds just swimming. My workouts consisted of 2500-4000 yards - 60-90 minutes, 4-6 times per week.

I wasn't losing weight for a long time doing the above workouts; I lost weight by changing my eating and drinking habits. No cheese, no booze, stopping when I was full (i.e., learning how to push the plate away), and portion control.

So....I lost 30 pounds in 5 months! I was able to eventually add wine, beer, cheese, other favorite foods, etc. back into my diet, but I still practice portion control.

October 19th, 2005, 04:34 PM

Glad to hear you are back in the pool. I understand your walking and biking predicament especially due to those Michigan winters. Are you on a team? If so, add some fins to your routine. Talk with your coach about it: when they are doing a set of 100's, kick them with fins instead. You'll make the same interval as if you were swimming. The reason I say this, is when I need to shape up, I kick more (usually 200 backstrokes). Also fast/moderate sets will increase your metabolism and burn more calories--such as 25 fast, 50 moderate.

I think just making a commitment and sticking with a routine is beneficial. What the aerobic swimming is doing is toning your body, as fishgrrl wrote, combining that with some food modification will help. Be sure and hydrate while you swim, it helps from gorging after practice! Which I'm sure we all have done. Best of luck, the board here is great for inspiration and advice.

October 19th, 2005, 04:41 PM
Originally posted by MichiganHusker
Thanks for your comments. Yes, I am speaking of the masters swimmer - 3-4 times a week swimming for 1 to 1 1/2 hours with 2000 yds+.

I did a search of former threads and there was some discussion about weight loss but mostly the successes were posted by men.

I just started back in the water after 25 years and many pounds. While I realize it took me many years to gain the weight, I want to lose it now! :p Swimming is the only sport that really feels natural to me. I hate running & aerobics, I can tolerate walking and cycling is great when the weather is good, but Michigan's cycling season is rather short (too hot or too cold).

I'm glad to know that if I don't see immediate results on the scale not to panic.

Losing weight is more about what you put in your mouth, exercise is just the healthy bonus. When I don't swim at least 60 minutes, 4 times a week, I have trouble with weight gain. I have lost 35 pounds and swimming most certainly helped. But the weight loss was slow, 1-1.5 most weeks, but some weeks under a pound. So watch what you eat 98% of the time, get in the pool and get your work-out in and if you don't have any other underlying issues(metabolism), then you will slowly lose weight and tone up.

October 19th, 2005, 05:01 PM
I noticed they've got an Endless Pool on the TV show "The Biggest Loser," so I guess they think swimming helps people lose weight :)

Yes, I do think swimming helps you lose weight. I don't know if it's the best way, but it definitely does. I'm about 15 lbs lighter now than when I started swimming masters and I eat a lot more.

October 19th, 2005, 05:02 PM
I've always been a healthy eater - I just have a big appetite, so definitely portion control is important. I've cut back on the glasses of wine during the week (that alone should be huge).

I did have my metabolism/thryroid checked as I was not losing any weight by diet along (1500 cals/day). The MD told me that the ONLY way to safely increase your metabolism is by regular exercise.

Dorthyrde and Fishgrrl: What sort of diet did you follow?

Does anyone have an opinion on weather it is better to exercise in the a.m. or p.m.?

Patrick: I'm not on a team - the local masters team works out too late in the evening for me. I've been using Mo Chambers' workouts - they are great! Mo has been extremely kind in helping me interpret the new fandangled lingo/stroke drills and set a strategy for maintaining a **lower** heart rate as I tend to work out way too hard - 90-95% of Max heart rate - unless I slow down and take it easier.

October 19th, 2005, 05:49 PM
Susan - I wasn't on a particular diet; I just cut down on the amount of food I was eating.

I LOVE cheese - any kind of cheese and I would eat it for snacks while cooking dinner; I would sprinkle it on almost anything that I ate, etc. I was in a kind of cheese-denial that I had to force myself out of - because when I finally braced up and looked at the calorie and fat grams of cheese, I HAD to stop eating it all together for a while. I was also drinking a lot of wine, pretty much every night - sometimes a bottle just on my own! Hence, the little personal wine and cheese parties were keeping the weight on, no matter how much I swam. When I cut that out, it made a huge difference.

Another thing that really helped was learning to listen to my body and STOP eating when I was full. That took practice because I was in the habit of overeating and stuffing myself and not listening to my body. Once I started doing that, I was amazed at how little I actually ate. I would give myself permission to not eat everything on my plate and if I couldn't bring myself to throw the food away, I just covered my plate and ate it later, when I was hungry again. So - no starving myself, but I only ate when I was truly hungry.

Drinking a lot of water helped too, because I noticed that I would think I was hungry when I was actually thirsty or dehydrated.

Now - I still have potato chips - but instead of taking the whole bag with me in front of the TV, I put a small amount in a bowl, and when I am done with the bowl, I'm done with the chips!

Basically, I still eat and drink whatever I want - I just don't eat a lot of it or too much of it.

Hope this helps!

October 19th, 2005, 07:40 PM
Kari, I think you are my long lost twin! Your comment about the personal wine and cheese parties made me laugh. Sometimes I think that wine bottle has a leak in it! :D I have noticed that I really don't want a glass of wine on the evenings I swim right after work. Uh....do you think there might be a connection here between wine and attempts at relieving stress? ;)

Thank you for your advice. I love to hear about success stories from real people.

October 19th, 2005, 07:51 PM
Susan - yes, you're my long lost twin! LOL. I don't like to have wine either after I swim at night; in fact, I don't to drink at all for at least 4-5 hours after I work out.

Yes - there is definitely a link between the "wine and cheese" parties and stress relief..... ;)

October 19th, 2005, 07:51 PM
After college I backed off from swimming a bit. I only got to the pool two to three times a week. Then, a few years ago our local masters team put in an a.m. workout that I could fit into my schedule. I decided to get back into the pool more regularly because it's a lot more motivating to have a group with whom to swim. I now do the group workouts three days a week and Mo Chamber's and Mel's workouts two to three days a week.

I have never been significantly overweight, and losing weight was not my goal, but I lost 12 pounds in my first five months just by upping my frequency to 5 times a week, 3500-4500 yards per practice. Three years later, with the same practice schedule, I'm still the same weight (130).

As far a diet is concerned, I eat a LOT of whatever I want. Luckily I don't like soda and gave up french fries on dare at age 12 and haven't had one since, but you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who eats as much chocolate as I do!

As far as workout times go, at some point I remember reading that morning workouts are good for weight loss -- something about getting your metabolism going.

October 19th, 2005, 09:33 PM
I do Weight Watchers and I especially like their Core plan. It teaches eating until satisfied, and selecting foods from a list of healthy foods.

I am 44, and have had a weight problem since high school. I started swimming 5 years ago, and swimming helped me firm up, but until I watched my portion size, I did not lose weight. I also love to weight train and have been weight training since age 20. I do step aerobics and walk my dog too. I think crosstraining really works well with losing weight, at least for me. Keeps me from being bored.

October 19th, 2005, 10:24 PM
I did Atkins, 50 lbs in 5 months. swimming 4 times a week, from 3k to 6k yards a workout. it was very hard to swim on 20 to 30g of carbs a day for the first month, but eventually it worked out well.

October 20th, 2005, 01:59 PM
I find that I achieve a given level of weight when I do a given regimen of workout. If I increase my distance and intensity a given amount, I quickly drop some amount of weight, and then stay there as long as I keep that workout schedule. If I drop back to my old level, I put back on the weight I had before the increase in workout, and stay there.

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to my caloric intake. I know it is high. Way high. I do not shy away from the potlucks at work. Never turned down an invitation to a picnic. Back in 1993 I participated in a study at the Olympic Training Center, and one of the elements of the study was a diet analysis. I averaged over 4000 calories per day. They also did a body fat analysis. At the time I had 11% body fat and weighed 219.

Since then I have been as high as 249 (beginning of 2005), but was averaging in the lower 240s. In March of 2005 I decided I wanted to swim in a 2.4 mile open water swim. I upped my workouts from 2500 yards, 6 days per week, to 4200-4500 yards, 6 days per week. By August I had dropped to a range of 226-233. I'm still there today. I'm curious to have a body fat analysis done again, because I believe I have added muscle mass, and not just fat, since my 219 days.

October 20th, 2005, 03:17 PM
Maybe something should be said about the ability of swimmers to use aerobic/anaerobic workouts. Some strokes may use more anaerobic training and then there will be less weight loss even though there is major cardio going on.

Here is what I got off googling anaerobic workouts:

Anaerobic Training is 'Highly' Aerobic

By Jack Blatherwick

This is not a lesson in semantics; there is a very important concept here regarding the development of skills and athleticism among young hockey players.

The phrase 'anaerobic training’ is often equated with 'anaerobic metabolism,' and the terms are not interchangeable. The other day, a fitness instructor on TV incorrectly explained that when a person is working anaerobically, he/she is no longer using oxygen. Let's hope the workout doesn't last long, or the athlete would obviously suffocate. The fact is, anaerobic workouts can be highly aerobic - - more aerobic than aerobic workouts, for that matter.

To understand this we need to know the basic terms. First, metabolism (in this case) means the chemical conversion of dietary fuels to energy to be used for muscle contraction. Muscle cells 'burn' fuels like glucose (sugar), fat, protein, and even lactate (one of the products of anaerobic metabolism). The word aerobic literally means with oxygen. Aerobic metabolism occurs when energy is supplied by combining oxygen with dietary fuels. Typical aerobic training (long, slow distances like jogging) is done at a slow pace so that oxygen can be supplied to working muscles fast enough to match the need.

Anaerobic metabolism is the chemical breakdown of fuels without oxygen, and this is required when the muscles are working so hard that oxygen cannot be supplied fast enough. Technically speaking, the only way exercise could be totally anaerobic is if the person were not allowed to breathe. In reality, during normal anaerobic workouts there is a huge aerobic component - - breathing is often much heavier than during aerobic workouts, the heart is pumping at (near)-maximum rates, and muscles are being supplied with a lot of oxygen. But the delivery of oxygen is inadequate to match the elevated workload, so anaerobic metabolism must also contribute to the energy production. How much it contributes depends on the intensity and length of the work intervals, the length of the rest, and the ratio of work to rest.

Therefore, anaerobic training uses both the aerobic and anaerobic metabolic pathways. It also challenges - - and therefore trains - - the cardiovascular system. So, when fitness instructors refer to 'cardio' workouts, as if they must be aerobic, they are wrong. It is also incorrect to claim that aerobic workouts are the best way to increase aerobic capacity. For old duffers like this author, long, slow distance workouts are the safest way to increase cardiovascular fitness. But for young hockey players, much of the endurance training should be anaerobic intervals, which also elevate the comfort zone for competition and increase speed, power, skill, and explosiveness.

By training aerobically (long, slow distances) there is no improvement in speed, explosiveness, or power. Furthermore, training at an aerobic pace on the ice would establish a slow comfort zone which is more than just a habit. There are definite physiological consequences when one tries to compete at a faster pace than practice.

So, what's the point? Without skating speed, quickness, and agility, no one makes it to the highest levels of hockey, and this requires hours and hours of training - - on the ice and off - - using quality intervals. The good news is that you can also gain aerobic endurance and cardiovascular efficiency as a byproduct of this training. We tested a college men's hockey team before and after six weeks of dryland interval training designed to improve running speed and quickness, anaerobic power on hills, and explosive power using skating-specific squat jumps. The training included short sprint intervals (5-15 seconds work : 50-60 seconds rest) and longer intervals for anaerobic power and endurance (30:60 and 30:90). There was no aerobic distance training. Workouts lasted only 45 minutes in the first week and increased to 90 minutes by the sixth week.

Post-tests showed significant improvements in skating quickness even though none of the training was on-ice. There were also improvements in power, measured during two anaerobic bicycle tests (12-second sprint test improved 6.8%; 40-second all-out Wingate test improved 8.0%). But the greatest percentage improvements were apparent during a graded exercise test to measure changes in cardio-respiratory parameters normally associated with aerobic training. Total work done during the graded exercise test increased by 29%. This, of course, measures a combination of aerobic and anaerobic work.

Anaerobic threshold was elevated by 20%, and VO2 max increased 6.3%. In a separate 5km run, subjects improved their times by 5.5%, and no one ran distances during the training period. Cardiovascular parameters also improved. One indication of successful endurance training is that the heart rate is lower at any given workload, indicating the stroke volume has increased. In other words, after a six-week training program the heart pumps more blood per beat, so it doesn't have to beat as fast.

For this team, the heart rates were lower at every workload after training six weeks (post-testing). This is shown on the graph. Furthermore, the elapsed time until the heart rate reached 85% of its maximum was extended by 5.5%. Similar results were reported by scientists in a separate study (Fox et.al. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc. pp.18-22. 1973).

The message is clear. You do not have to train aerobically to gain cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, because anaerobic training can have a tremendously high component of aerobic metabolism along with the various anaerobic pathways supplying energy to the muscles.

Hockey is an interval game, so the most important endurance training is interval workouts on-ice. During games, shifts on the ice are typically about 40 seconds long, and rest intervals on the bench are 2 to 3 times as long if there are no face-offs. Biomechanists analyzed high-speed film to determine that a typical 40-second shift will have a series of short (3-second) bursts of acceleration and deceleration. Furthermore, research has verified what hockey players feel each year at training camp: endurance training off-ice may not increase endurance on-ice (Daub et.al. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc. pp. 290-294. 1983).

The Bottom Line

At a young age when it is still possible to make significant improvements in skating skill, speed, quickness, and agility, it is important to spend most of your time training for these goals (along with other hockey skills). Whether skating, sprinting, jumping, or lifting weights, the anaerobic interval training needs to be very intense, much greater energy output than the pace of an aerobic workout.

The good news is you can have your cake and eat it, too. If you plan the anaerobic workouts wisely there will be significant improvements in cardiovascular and respiratory fitness without the need to jog or bike distances.

From: http://overspeed.info/staticpages/index.php?page=HighlyAerobic

October 20th, 2005, 04:24 PM
Definitely alot of food for thought. :D

Thanks everyone for your input/advice!

October 20th, 2005, 05:28 PM
Ask me in February after I finish my first season on the varsity team here....then I can tell you if I've lost weight, lol.

October 20th, 2005, 06:46 PM
Swimmign can possibnly help you lose weight. It is better to build muscle and heart strength. You won't lose weight if you don't push yourself & watch your intake.

October 21st, 2005, 02:22 PM
I share the best advice I ever got concerning weight control. "Learn to eat three meals a day---Period and drink all the water you want". I have done this for alot of years and have maintened a healthy weight for all of them.

This sort of ties in with the KISS princple Keep it Simple Simple

October 21st, 2005, 03:02 PM
also note, "weight" is not the "Be all end all". if you are exercising hard and doing strength training, you should gain muscle mass. if you lose 10 lbs of fat and gain 15 lbs of muscle, your weight will have gone up 5lbs. now that might be discouraging, but its actually a good thing, unless you are a horse jockey or some other individual where absolute weight is all that matters.

October 21st, 2005, 04:06 PM
Regarding the 3 meals a day...I've heard just the opposite is better, that you should eat smaller snacks throughout the day.

I swim in the morning (6am), and don't eat anything before it. Once I get to the office (about 8am), I snack on nuts, granola, and have a sandwich (usually turkey--at about 10am). I eat lunch at around 12:45 (a small leftover dinner usually), then snack on carrots, grapes, an apple, etc throughout the afternoon. Dinner is at about 6:30pm, and it is the biggest meal all at once. If I have any dessert it will usually be at about 8pm.

But truthfully, even with swimming 5 days a week, losing weight was a struggle. I added in walking over my lunch back in March, and the weight started coming off. In April, I added in weights 3x week, and initially, weight came off even more.

With my new routine, my weight will vary from 180 to 185, which I'm generally happy with. Lifting weights has probably added some muscle, which weighs more than fat, so I think this is a safe level.

I have to agree with the alchol consumption too. I used to drink a glass of wine with regular dinner sometimes 3x week. That since stopped, now I only drink on weekends, and even then it is far less. Also, I used to have a Coke everday with lunch...amazing the difference that alone gives.

October 21st, 2005, 04:37 PM
Yes - lifting weights and/or strength training in general really helps, because you're building muscle. You might gain weight, but you'll lose inches! I'm back in my Calvin Klein skinny jeans....!

Also....as silly as this might sound, I rarely drink wine or beer and if I have cocktail, it's always hard liquor, like clear rum with diet soda.

Also - I don't drink soda, not even diet soda! Unless it's with rum (see above). What also helps is to have a glass of water with every cocktail I have, so that I feel full and I'm somewhat rehydrating myself, and I consume less booze that way too.

Sincerely - Kari, aka drinker with a swimming problem

October 21st, 2005, 04:40 PM
One more thing...I also agree with the small meals a day idea....

I swim in the morning too - so I'll have a piece of toast with peanut butter before I swim. Afterward, I'll have oatmeal, fresh fruit, and like Aztimm, a sandwich - all by late morning. I snack on fruit and yogurt or another sandwich in the afternoon, and then dinner anywhere between 6-8 PM.

Susan...give grazing a try. And try a Barcardi and diet coke....

October 21st, 2005, 07:06 PM
"Also....as silly as this might sound, I rarely drink wine or beer and if I have cocktail, it's always hard liquor, like clear rum with diet soda."


It doesn't sound silly at all. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one. I haven't had a soda since age 12 when I had a coach that wouldn't let us drink it. People usually look at me like I'm nuts when I tell them that all I drink is water. I carry around a 1/2 gallon jug at work, and I'm always getting comments like, "You drink all of that in ONE day?"

I've never regretted giving soda up, and now I can't even drink if I'm desperate because it makes my eyes water. Yes, this also means that I can't drink beer because of the carbonation (a good thing!).

Unlike you though, Kari, I only indulge in wine since I can't even stand soda as a mixer.


October 21st, 2005, 07:08 PM
I think I'm going to throw away the scale all together! If you think about it, one of the benefits of exercise is weight loss for most, but serious, I just want to live a long and healthy life.

This morning, after 1 week of eating healthy, lo-fat, lo-cal and swimming/walking/weights, I gained 2 lbs. Now I wasn't really concerned about the 2 lbs since we all know muscle weighs more than fat and also when your muscles are repairing, there is some weight gain too.

So I decided I would take my measurements and see if there was any loss there.

I'll be darned....I lost 1 inch in my NECK!

But hey! I'll take it. This time of year is incredibly difficult - their are so few weekends and so many football games and tailgates to attend!

Kari, I'll give the rum & diet coke a try. At least it is easier to sneak into the football games. heh heh.

October 21st, 2005, 07:19 PM
Susan - LOL! Yes...you can "doctor" up your diet soda bottles....


Kristi...I work with people who drink soda after soda all day! I don't see how they do it.... I'd be so bloated.

I have a book writtin by Dr. Haas, who is a registered dietician, and the one who really helped Andre Agassi get back in the game via a better diet. Anyway, he says that if you're going to have a cocktail, have a Bloody Mary - it's a "healthier" mixed drink. If I can find the recipe, I'll share it next week

October 22nd, 2005, 11:23 AM
I have lost 60 pounds since May, and swimming is a big part of my program. To loose weight, you must eat less of the good stuff (fat free, low cal) and none of the bad. But the weeks that I swim the most, I have lost the most. While swimming alone is not enough, dieting works best when exercise is added. I believe that swimming has helped me the most mentally by helping tone up ( a little) the flab I have left....:)

October 22nd, 2005, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by aztimm
Regarding the 3 meals a day...I've heard just the opposite is better, that you should eat smaller snacks throughout the day. .

doctors and dieticians seem to agree, but dentists seem to feel opposite. the more times you eat per day, the worse for your teeth and gums.

October 24th, 2005, 11:28 PM
Try searching the forum on this topic. From what I recall in past threads the consensus seemed to be there was limited success in weight loss from swimming. I'm impressed with some of the testimonials in this thread, looks like it works to me.

I've never (in my life) been more than about 15# over what I feel is my ideal weight, which is now 180-185#@6'2". I did notice that once I passed 40y/o the weight did not come off as fast or easy (just as everyone said it would be). So I weigh my self at least 1x/wk mostly out of curiosity. I typically vary (on average) at least 5# between mid summer and mid winter. I can vary 3-5# in just a few days sometimes when sudden (extreme) changes in exercise, fluid intake, and diet all happen at once (as in "stress-outta-control"), but this event is fairly rare.

I don't bother counting calories, or doing any complex diet analysis. I try to eat a well-rounded diet, avoid highly processed foods, eat when hungry and quit when full. Drinking plenty of water is important, typically 1-ltr per 50# of body weight per day. I often think there is room for improvement in my diet habits, but I generally feel good so I don't fuss or worry over it (as my worry demons are other things). Except for occasional yard work my only form of exercise has been swimming for over a decade now. Lately I typically swim 1600-2000+, in 60min+, 3x/wk. Sometimes I do Yoga, but that is it.

October 25th, 2005, 08:07 AM
I have found that swimming does help with weight loss, but I have the best results when I combine swimming with controlling my diet.

I've been doing master's swimming workouts 2x a week and either walking, biking, or swimming 1-2x a week since July. I've also been following Weight Watchers off and on since then. On the weeks that I follow Weight Watchers fairly well, I usually lose 2-3 pounds a week. On the weeks where I don't control my diet, I don't lose any weight or even end up gaining. I know I'm also getting stronger, but I don't see that on the scale.

I am a 35 year old woman who is about 90 pounds overweight (ugh). I gained a lot of weight while on bedrest with my pregnancy and never managed to lose it (my daughter is 3). Overall since July I have managed to lose about 15 pounds.

So I would say that swimming does help with weight loss, inasmuch as any cardio exercise does, but to see consistent weight loss results, you have to eat healthy. (I am a cheese addict too!)

One good thing about swimming - I feel like I get a better workout sometimes than either walking or biking, because I am not as winded or tired since the water provides some buoyancy. So while unfortunately I am still very overweight, I can still do most of the workout.

PS. Also I think weight training helps a lot with losing sizes rather than pounds - the weeks I weight train, I don't lose weight, but I notice my clothes fit better. :)

October 25th, 2005, 02:02 PM
Kerry, that is totally awesome! I'm glad to hear from so women that have toned up and/or lost weight after starting a swimming program.

I was a size 6 until I hit 33 and got a "desk" job. I've got a lot of weight and inches to lose, but everyone's comments has really encouraged me. Thanks again.

In the past when I gained weight, it came off so easily. In the last 10 yrs, I have gained 80 lbs and tried everything, Weight Watcher's, Jenny Craig, South Beach, Atkins, Optifast, you name it and had no success.

After the thyroid doctor told me that there was no medical reason stopping me from losing weight, I finally came to the realization that the missing ingrediant has to be exercise and my metabolism is completely out of whack.

I recall in high school how our team had 1-2 really fat girls on the team who had swam all through age-group swimming and were actually pretty good swimmers until they got fat. But I think I remember that these girls ate alot of junk and were emotional eaters.

Well, if my new diet/exercise regime works, I certainly will be able to write the book on effective weight loss!

October 25th, 2005, 02:09 PM
Ladies (and gents)....if I can remember, I'll send Dr. Haas's recipe for the "healthy" cocktail....


October 25th, 2005, 04:46 PM

Last year when I started back after not swimming for almost 10 yrs. I lost 71 pounds. That was with swimming and portion control alone. No weights, running or anything. I have since added running and weights and lost an additional 20.

I was FAT when I started back and I was still a good swimmer. Now, I am.....less fat and still a good swimmer. The biggest difference to me is that I can do 6000+ yard workout with my age group kids and still function after.

I personally don't care what I weigh, I just know that I am half the person (physically) that I used to be and twice the person (mentally) that I used to be!!!

Best of Luck


January 26th, 2006, 02:30 PM
When I posted this thread, I had just started back swimming. I was out of shape and I wanted to lose weight, but I didn't want to invest time and energy into something that wasn't going to work.

I have been swimming 3-5 times a week since mid Oct. 2005, my diet has always been relatively healthy, but portion control was an issue so I tried to watch that - eating only enough to satisfy my hunger, etc. and no wine during the week.

I have not lost one single pound. I weigh exactly the same as I did when I started. BUT, the cool thing is I am losing inches like mad. I've lost 3 1/2 inches around my waist, bust and hips. I've lost 1 inch around my thighs and arms.

Everyone tells me I am looking really good. I am wearing clothes that I couldn't even zip or button in October.

My point is not to brag, but to provide encouragement for everyone else that is trying to lose weight. Keep track of your measurements! It is absolutely true what they say - muscle weighs more than fat and muscle takes up less room in your body than fat does.

I had read that it takes 12-20 weeks after starting a swimming program before weight loss occurs. I'm just over the 12 week mark and I am more motivated then ever to keep going.

If you are reading this for encouragement ---- Don't give up!

January 26th, 2006, 03:08 PM
When I first started swimming with a Masters group, I lost about 100 pounds. It was the first time in my life I was at a correct weight/body fat. I also was following an extremely strict low-fat diet counting calories and doing some drylands (stationary bike, weights, stretching)

After a while, I quit keeping up my food/exercise diary and the pounds started creeping back on. My weight typically fluctuates 7-10# a month so the scales didn't really provide feedback, and I have never been able to go by how "full I feel" to keep from overeating. I had a change in my social life, work schedule and also became more involved in swim administration and missing workouts became the rule, not the exception. I was making maybe 2-4 workouts a MONTH and the drylands ended.

Just 100 calories a day consumed in excess of what's used can be a huge difference after 10 years.

Ten years later ... I have resolved to put the swimming at a higher priority. In the past month I have been making it to practice about 4 times a week for at least an hour. After a solid effort at practice, I find that my appetite is completely different than otherwise. I crave fruits, high-liquid foods, and don't have a desire for rich heavy meals, chips/salsa or my beloved beer, wine or margaritas. What sounds good are carbs -- like a burrito made with mashed potatoes and spanish rice! or a homemade smoothie with lots of fruit, OJ, nonfat yogurt, and ice. Overall my appetite is curbed. I can't say for sure how much weight I've lost but it's probably 5-10#. I can feel a difference in my muscle strength/tone and the jeans are looser.

When I was in high school and college I swam on the team (about 20,000 yards a week), ate junk, and was always too fat. When I started playing adult rec soccer (goalie), softball, jogging, biking, volleyball, bowling, racketball, etc. for 6 days a week I still was overweight and gaining. Most of these have a lot of standing around relative to playing time, and after games we would always go for beer/pizza or something.

In my present shape, I would be hard-pressed to find another activity that I could pursue for 90 minutes at any level of intensity.

So my personal experience is that swimming is great for weight loss, but it has to be at a certain workload and in conjunction with a healthy diet.

January 26th, 2006, 05:44 PM
An interesting article on swimming and weight loss:


Summary: cold water makes you hungry!

Frank Thompson
January 26th, 2006, 05:56 PM

I hope people that run swimming facilities, especially Y's and Rec center pools don't see this study. This will be justification for them to keep water temperature high and hot to exceed 86/88 degrees. I know you have seen countless times on this forum about peoples experiences fighting facilites about hot water conditions and trying to get a decent workout in. When they read this they will say cold water is bad for you. Specifically they will say no more 80 degree days or under for pool temperatures.

jean sterling
January 26th, 2006, 06:59 PM
The cold water temperature was 68. That is cold!! Especially for students at the University of Florida where the study was done.

I don't think you can take the results of this study and apply it to a more reasonable water temperature like 79 or 80.

Frank Thompson
January 26th, 2006, 07:27 PM

Your statement is true and 68 does seem a little cold. I have actually worked out doing a lot of distance training in water like that. But 91.4 degrees is worse and I believe dangerous. Its funny because 79 to 80 is about half way between both temperatures. I not disputing that cold water makes you hungry. It also makes you extremly tired. However, warm water at 91.4 would make you dehydrated and tired also. Plus at that temperature the pool chlorine and pH would be heavy and the water clarity would not be pleasant to swim in a workout situation. You would have to take a shower longer to get rid of ichy skin.

January 28th, 2006, 12:05 AM
Originally posted by LindsayNB
An interesting article on swimming and weight loss:


Summary: cold water makes you hungry!

I agree with this. There are some studies around supporting this.

I always feel like I could eat a cow after workout, compared to other training(such as running) ive done. However, if you can control yourself you should be able to lose weight(burn more then you consume).

March 7th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Hi there,

I'm new to the forum but glad I found it!

Just recently I found out about a masters swimming near my home. To be honest, I don't really know anything about master's swimming. I just want to swim and get in better shape.

I'm also interested in losing weight but I'm not obsessed with a number, just want to look and feel good in my skin (and clothes) and reduce my level of stress. I love being in water and have always found the pool a great way to leave my stress behind.

I also think it's kind of funny that people are talking about wanting to eat like a horse after a swim, I found that after hiking for a few hours! I think any time you work hard you are going to want/need to eat and refuel yourself, right?

March 8th, 2006, 06:43 AM
Personally, I've always found it's better to fuel up before exercise, so the body has something to draw on while it's being stressed. (Of course, more than an hour before swimming). I don't eat after a practice, but that's because it's usually 9:00 pm and I'm going to go to bed soon. I drink some water and I'm fine. I guess it depends on the time of day you're doing the exercise.


August 28th, 2007, 12:49 AM
I thought I'd add my own results to this discussion. I started getting exercise in the yard and garden in May, and started swimming again in June. I haven't really gone on a diet, I still eat whatever I want, as much as I want with two exceptions: high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils. One day a week I make at exception to the exception and eat some junk food. I could probably lose weight faster if I reduced my caloric intake but as we all know for the majority of people that is not really sustainable in the long term. Weights are in pounds not kg (for you Canadians).

5/1/07 215, yes really.
6/10/07 207
7/15/07 203
8/16/07 197
8/27/07 193

I think a lot of the studies that show swimming doesn't contribute to weight loss aren't specific enough about the level of exertion. 60 minutes of swimming is one thing but 60 minutes where you maintain a certain percentage of your max HR is another.

August 28th, 2007, 06:39 AM
Since July 4, I have been very careful about my diet. no processsed foods, lotsa fruits, and veggies, lotsa fish, lean meats. I find the weeks I swim or bike more, are the weeks I lose more. Swimming is very important to my weight loss. Since July 4, I have lost 13 pounds and have 7 more to go. Good feeling to pull out the clothes that were tucked away because they were too small!

And while this diet was hard to adjust to at first(miss my sweets), boy does it give me energy and I feel great! This has translated to the pool and my swims(once the water temp went back down) have been great.

August 28th, 2007, 08:02 AM
That's good and reasonable progress Dorothy. Those last 7 will be easy I bet.

I felt and looked like a tub of goo in July 2006, weighing in at 190. Between last July and February I dropped to 158 and have kept it there ever since. No more heartburn, fewer nagging injuries, etc. I only weigh once a month.

August 28th, 2007, 10:15 AM
I weigh myself regularly. I have a scale that also measure fat and hydration which I watch closer them total weight. To me weight is like BMI. It does take in to account other factors.

Clothes and the mirror are the best for that.

Congrats n the discipline it takes to make the change!

August 28th, 2007, 10:32 AM
I think a lot of the studies that show swimming doesn't contribute to weight loss aren't specific enough about the level of exertion. 60 minutes of swimming is one thing but 60 minutes where you maintain a certain percentage of your max HR is another.

Most of the lap swimmers I see look like they're taking it easy. Especially if you are a decent swimmer you can go through the motions easily. Running is always hard no matter what you do.

August 28th, 2007, 11:45 AM
I weigh myself regularly. I have a scale that also measure fat and hydration which I watch closer them total weight. To me weight is like BMI. It does take in to account other factors.

How do you measure fat and hydration? I have a skinfold caliper but I'm also aware of the handheld electric fat testers, is that what you have. How about hydration?

August 28th, 2007, 12:04 PM
How do you measure fat and hydration? I have a skinfold caliper but I'm also aware of the handheld electric fat testers, is that what you have. How about hydration?

It a "bathroom" scale that send an electric pulse through you and it measures the resistance based on gender, weight and height.

There are several version to buy. I have the Tanita (sp?). They're kind of expensive (for a scale), but very handy.

August 28th, 2007, 03:58 PM
I started swimming in September of 06. I've now lost about 46 lbs with no dieting. It has slowed down a bit the last month or two, however. I think I am going to have to start counting the calories in order to loose the last 30 or so lbs. I will say that I have been my current weight in the past, but my body was definately bigger than it is now....so swimming as done an awesome job toning and taking away the inches. I have also really started to focus on mixing sprints with my longer sets, hoping to boost things even more.

December 14th, 2016, 06:43 PM
I actually lost 30lbs after taking a break from open water swimming. I live in the northwest and in summer swim in the lakes. the temps are about 65-70? I don't remember now. I also eat an incredible amount after a good one hour or one mile swim. I wonder whether swimming at the gym would cause me to lose weight? Because the water is less cold and I would need for less "insulation". I kinda struggle with this one. (I am 5'5" 1/2" and 155. When I was swimming outdoors I was as much as 180 #. )I have eaten a large pizza from the restaurant without regrets when I was open water training. My dr says that I need to lose weight, but I just tell her I'm an athlete. :) so my BMI will be higher. I'm also 40 and kind of a chesty woman with large hips. My percentage body fat is about 30% and I don't think I could get lower than 140#. I feel stronger in the upper body after swimming.

But here's to eating carbs! Probably need to cut down on soda pop and just over eating. I don't ever 'diet' after a lifestyle change or a different season I just lose or gain weight. I do tend to gain 20 # in winter and lose 20 # in summer, my weight is all over the place. My aunt who is a dr told me just to eat at the same time every day and that will train my body.

I wanted to add that I am not a competitive swimmer... mostly just for fun.

One random thing I wanted to add, make sure you get your eloctrolytes... one time I was almost washed out... and had to go to the hospital!

December 15th, 2016, 01:11 PM
I went to a nutritionist last year and fortunately, ended up with one who was a college swimmer. She got it the ravenous appetites after morning practice and how to handle double days without passing out! We really worked on getting the right calories and breaking them up throughout the day. She had me with a lot of protein. Over the course of 3 months, I lost only about 9lbs, but none of it was muscle, it was all fat. She pinched me with the calipers and took measurements. It was very exciting and in the end, I also ended up gaining a lot of speed with that muscle. Don't hesitate to look into a sports nutritionist who might be able to tweak what you're doing.